The deadly bus crash in Northern California that killed five Los Angeles-area high school students on their way to check out a Northern California college campus, as well as a newly engaged couple and three other adults, took a strange new twist Saturday based on new a eyewitness account of the horrifying crash.
The high school students on board the bus, one of two taking the teens on a college tour, were highly motivated students from low-income homes, driven to be the first in their families to go to college. But for at least five, their aspirations ended forever in the fiery wreck caused when a FedEx tractor-trailer truck swerved across a grassy meridian into oncoming traffic, slamming into the tour bus — which immediately burst into flame.
Now, a couple driving a car that was sideswiped by the FedEx truck, say that that the big rig was in flames before the crash when it barreled across the meridian and slammed into the bus.
Bonnie and Joe Duran were in a rented Nissan Altima headed north in Interstate 5 when they saw the FedEx truck speeding straight at them across the meridian.
“It was already on fire,” Bonnie Duran said, describing flames visible behind the cab of the out-of-control FedEx truck that headed straight at them, before the bus crash.
“Somehow we survived,” Bonnie Duran told a Sacramento TV station. “I looked over and saw the FedEx truck coming straight for me.”
“It was like a 3-D movie,” said Joe Duran. “Imagine a Mack truck coming out of a movie.”
They swerved just enough to avoid taking the crash head on. The FedEx truck clipped the back door of the Nissan before plowing head on into the bus filled with high school kids.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash and a spokesperson said the NTSB is aware of the Duran’s account, even though initial reports from the California Highway Patrol said that fire did not erupt until the truck collided with the bus.
Heartbreaking details are emerging from the carnage of the bus crash. Twin sisters Marisa and Marisol Serato were both on the trip, but they decided to ride in separate buses. Marisa was killed in the bus crash, leaving her twin sister devastated.
The five high school students killed in the cash are pictured above.
Also killed were the tour chaperones, Michael Myvett and Mattison Haywood, a couple who made a trip to Paris over Christmas where they were engaged.
Transportation experts expect the investigation into the bus crash to take months.
“This is a very significant and unfortunate tragedy,” said former NTSB Chairman Jim Hall of the bus crash devastation. “The NTSB is going to have its hands full on this one.”