9 dead in bus collision; L.A.-area students touring college on board

At least nine people were killed Thursday when a tour bus collided with a FedEx truck on the 5 Freeway in Northern California, causing a fire that left dozens of people injured.

The bus was carrying high school students going to Humboldt State University for a spring break tour of the campus, according to university officials.

"Our hearts go out to those who have been affected, and we are here to support them, and their families, in any way possible," said Rollin Richmond, the university's president, in a statement.

Updated at 9:47 p.m.


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The driver of the bus and truck were killed, officials said, and the other fatalities were passengers on the bus.

CHP officer Tracy Hoover estimated that more than 30 people were hurt. At least one person suffered from “severe burns “ while others  had “cuts, scrapes, minor burns and contusions,” she said.

Witness Marc Smutny, 27, said he was doing landscape work nearby when he heard a series of blasts.

Smutny said he ran to the scene on Interstate 5 and saw tall flames rising from the FedEx truck and a white charter bus.

“It was insane. The bus was engulfed in flames, smoke in and out of the front,” Smutny said. “The bus looked like it took most of the hit. … It was horrible.”

 

Updated at 9:17 p.m.

L.A. Unified School District Supt. John Deasy said several district students were on the bus but that he did not have an exact count.

At least one LAUSD student was injured. The student contacted her mother, who alerted LAUSD officials.

The district has no information on the condition of any of the other students on the bus. The trip was not organized by the district, Deasy added.

Updated at 9:13 p.m.

The CHP said the FedEx truck crossed over the center median of the 5 Freeway and hit the bus head-on.

Updated at 9:09 p.m.

The CHP said the students were from South L.A. County and attended various high schools. Officials did not know the specific schools.

 Updated at 9 p.m.

The Chico Enterprise-Record posted audio from CHP officer Tracy Hoover, who told the newspaper that the FedEx big-rig truck was traveling southbound on the 5 Freeway when it crossed over to the northbound lanes and struck a bus carrying 46 passengers with “students from the L.A. area. ... on their way to Humboldt County to look at colleges.”