The National Transportation Safety Board continues its investigation of a head-on collision between a FedEx tractor-trailer and a tour bus carrying a group of high-school students en route to Humboldt State University on the 10th of April. The collision took place near the town of Orland in Northern California, when the driver of the FedEx truck lost control of his vehicle and entered the oncoming lane of traffic, striking the tour bus head-on. Both the driver of the truck and that of the bus were killed in the ensuing collision, along with eight of the bus’ passengers, including a recruiter for the University, several alumni, and a number of students from El Monte High School and Animo Inglewood Charter High School in Southern California.
Preliminary reports from the NTSB have indicated that the truck crossed from the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, travelling 58 feet across a median and through bushes before entering the northbound lanes opposite. The truck collided with a passenger car before ultimately crashing head-on into the tour bus. A post collision fire broke out shortly afterward, causing further damage and injury. According to the NTSB’s findings, an eye-witness testimonal that the truck was on fire before the collision had no basis in fact.
Tests are currently being conducted by the NTSB using a tractor-trailer and a tour bus similar to those involved in the accident, attempting to determine exactly how the collision took place, and gain insight into factors such as braking and visibility. While all of the victims have been identified, toxicology and other laboratory tests are still being conducted to determine the specific causes of death. These details will be released with the rest of the NTSB’s findings when the full report of the incident is completed, though investigators say this may take several weeks.
The mother of one girl killed in the crash – a 17 year old honor student who had been planning on attending Humboldt State University – has already filed a lawsuit against FedEx for the wrongful death of her daughter. The lawsuit alledges negligence on the part of the driver, and FedEx, who, according to the suit, were aware that the trucks in their shipping fleet were prone to catching fire during collisions. The suit claims $100 million in damages – a number presumed by some to have been selected to draw attention to the case. Many say that this lawsuit will be only the first of many, as the families of other victims of the crash seek restitution for the loss of their loved ones.
In what began as an outpouring of support for the families of the victims, Humboldt State has created three separate college scholarship funds in honor of those killed in the crash. A spokesperson for the University explained that ”Calls originally came in as wanting to help families now, and then it turned into wanting to make a lasting contribution.”
Donations can be made at alumni.humboldt.edu/giving/accident-memorial-scholarships