Authorities are still investigating what led a FedEx truck to veer across the Interstate 5 in Northern California, and slam head-on into a charter bus, killing one Riverside student and nine others, officials said today.
One of three Riverside students aboard the bus was publicly identified by her family as 17-year-old Marisa Serrato, who apparently died in Thursday’s fiery crash, according to NBC4. Marisa attended Norte Vista High School.
Marisa was among the 48 students and chaperones traveling on the bus to visit the campus of Humboldt State University when it was struck by the big rig near the town of Orland, 90 minutes north of Sacramento. The collision
triggered a massive explosion that authorities compared with a sonic boom, heard miles away.
Marisa Serrato’s twin sister, Marisol, was traveling to the same destination on a separate bus and was not injured. Marisol was searching for her missing sister at the scene but Glenn County sheriff’s investigators asked for dental records from the Serrato family because Marisa was believed to be among the dead, according to media reports.
Five adults and five high school students were among the dead. Determining the cause behind the crash could take months, according to Mark Rosekind of the National Transportation Safety Board.
The names of the dead have not been confirmed as they were burned beyond recognition and require dental records to positively verify who they were, Glenn County sheriff’s Sgt. Todd James said.
The charter bus carrying Marisa Serrato was heading north Thursday afternoon on Interstate 5 when the FedEx truck crossed the center median from the southbound lanes. The truck crashed into the bus and “basically exploded,” James said.
A witness told ABC7 the truck was already in flames when it veered across the freeway.
It’s still too early in the investigation to confirm what the witness reported and the California Highway Patrol would not comment on other aspects of the fatal crash until the probe is complete, CHP Officer Lacey Heitman told City News Service today.
The Alvord Unified School District would be providing support to students and staff, said superintendent Sid Salazar in a statement.
“Our hearts go out to the families who have been impacted by this accident,” Salazar said.
One student from La Sierra High School and two — including Marisa — from Norte Vista High School — were aboard the Silverado Stages charter bus. The company is based in San Luis Obispo.
“Silverado Stages is helping authorities in gathering information regarding the tragic accident,” according to a company statement. “Our top priority is making sure that the injured are being cared for.”