RED BLUFF, Calif. — Federal investigators could not corroborate on Saturday a driver's claim that a FedEx semitrailer truck was already on fire before it careened across a freeway median, sideswiped her car and slammed into a bus carrying high school students, killing 10 people in a fiery wreck.
Investigators were still looking for more witnesses to the Thursday crash, National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind said. They also plan to conduct tests to determine if the truck driver inhaled smoke before the collision and search for evidence of a fire at the crash scene before the vehicles exploded into towering flames and billowing black smoke.
Investigators also found no signs that the truck driver attempted to brake before the crash. They found no tire marks as the truck careened across Interstate 5 and slammed into the bus taking the students to a tour of Humboldt State University in Northern California. Five students, three adult chaperones and both drivers died. Rosekind said the bus driver had relieved another driver whose shift ended during a stop in Sacramento.
Joe and Bonnie Duran, the Seattle-area couple who were in the car, said, like the bus, they were northbound on Interstate 5 on Thursday afternoon. Bonnie Duran, who was driving, told KNBC-TV in Los Angeles that flames were coming from the lower rear of the truck cab.
"I just looked to the left, and there it was coming through right at me at an angle. I can tell I wasn't going to outrun him, so I just kind of turned to the right and he hit me," she said. "It was in flames as it came through the median. … It wasn't like the whole thing was engulfed. It was coming up wrapping around him."