ORLAND, Calif. – Nine people were killed Thursday and dozens injured in a fiery crash between a FedEx delivery truck and a charter bus carrying high school students on a visit to a Northern California college, authorities said.
California Highway Patrol dispatchers said the drivers of the truck and bus were among the dead along with seven other people who were riding on the bus.
The crash happened a little after 5:30 p.m. on Interstate 5 near Orland, a small city about an hour-and-a-half north of Sacramento.
The bus was one of two that the admissions office at Humboldt State University had chartered to bring prospective students from Southern California up to tour the Arcata campus, Humboldt’s Vice President of Administrative Affairs Joyce Lopes said.
A CHP dispatcher said the bus and truck were on opposite sides of the freeway when the truck crossed a grass median and slammed into the bus, causing an explosion and fire.
Investigators say the truck driver might have been trying to avoid a passenger car that was also involved in the crash, which shut down north- and southbound traffic on the freeway.
A first responder who helped set up a triage at the scene said 36 or 37 people sustained injuries ranging from severe to minor burns, broken legs and noses and head lacerations.
“The victims were teenage kids. A lot of them were freaked out. They were shocked. They still couldn’t grasp what happened,” said Jason Wyman, with the Orland Volunteer Fire Department.