A driver “didn’t do anything” to help passengers as they sat trapped in a fire in the back of his limo, a victim of the deadly blaze said this week.
The limousine caught fire while driving near San Francisco, killing a bride and four of her friends who were enjoying a bachelorette party. One of the people to survive the fire said the driver “didn’t do anything” to save the people trapped.
“When he get out from that car, he just opened the door, that’s all he did,” Nelia Arellano, 36, told ABC News affiliate KGO-TV. “I even ask the driver, ‘Open the door, open the door.’ He didn’t do anything.
“I even ask him, ‘Help me, help me,’ because I bring out my head from that compartment and say, ‘Help me,’ so I could squeeze myself over there and slide myself.”
Arellano said the women in the back of the limo knocked on the partition to alert him of the growing fire.
The limo driver, Orville Brown, contests that account. He said he thought they were tapping on the partition to ask if he could smoke. Brown added that he did all he could to save the passengers after the fire broke out, pulling out survivors through the limo’s partition and the front door.
Brown said the fire was strengthened when one of the survivors opened the limo door, allowing a rush of oxygen to get to the fire.
“When they opened the door, that let the fire get oxygen, that oxygenated the fire, it allowed oxygen to get to the fire and that fire spread so fast,” Brown told KGO.
The bride, identified as 31-year-old Neriza Fojas, and four of her friends were unable to escape the rapidly growing flames and died. Authorities said they were found huddled around the partition, suggesting that they were trying to escape when they died.
“My guess would be they were trying to get away from the fire and use that window opening as an escape route,” said San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault.
Authorities said the limo company and driver who “didn’t do anything” may have violated the law by booking the limo over its capacity of eight occupants. There were nine people inside at the time of the limo fire.