Riverside Student Feared Dead in Charter Bus Crash

RIVERSIDE – One of three Riverside students aboard a charter bus involved in a fiery crash that killed 10 passengers in Northern California remains unaccounted for and is feared dead.

”We are currently aware that two students were hospitalized and are in stable condition,” Alvord Unified School District Superintendent Sid Salazar said in a statement released this afternoon. ”We are unaware of the status of the third student.”

The missing girl, 17-year-old Marisa Serrato, was among the 48 students and chaperones traveling on the bus when it was struck by a big rig, triggering a massive explosion that authorities compared to a sonic boom, heard miles away.

Serrato’s twin sister, Marisol, was traveling on a separate bus and was not injured. According to family members, the teenager has been searching for her sibling, but Glenn County sheriff’s investigators have reportedly asked for dental records from the Serrato family because Marisa is believed to be among the dead.

”We will be providing support for our students, their families and staff,” Salazar said. ”Our hearts go out to the families who have been impacted by this accident.”

One student from La Sierra High School and two — including Marisa — from Norte Vista High School were aboard the Silverado Stages 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.”

The victims were taken to seven hospitals throughout the area, according to published reports.

The collision happened about 5:30 p.m. Thursday on northbound Interstate 5 near Orland, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A FedEx tractor-trailer crossed a highway center divider, clipped a car and slammed into the bus, which was en route to Humboldt State University in Arcata, just south of the Oregon state line.

The students were slated to spend a weekend at the campus as part of its spring Preview Plus event for incoming freshmen. All of the teenagers were from schools in Southern California, authorities said.

One of the students attended a school in the Riverside Unified School District last year, but had since transferred to Alvord, according to RUSD spokeswoman Jacquie Paul.

”It’s a fluid situation, but as far as we know, we didn’t have any students involved,” Paul told City News Service.

Federal transportation officials had been called in to investigate the crash because it involved interstate commercial traffic.

FedEx, whose driver was killed, released a statement saying the company was ”cooperating fully with authorities as they investigate.”

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