Wife says driver was on phone before fatal fire on San Mateo Bridge

July 22, 2013 8:27:50 PM PDT
Could distracted driving have been a contributing factor to the May 5 fatal limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge? Investigators are checking out that possibility. It involves a dispute between the driver and his wife.

At some point before the limo caught fire, driver Orville Brown had a heated argument with his estranged wife by cellphone.

"He verbally started cussing me out, so he turned up the radio," Raquel Hernandez-Brown said. "I told him, 'Turn it down, I can't hear you anyways, I'm hanging up.'"

Hernandez-Brown can't remember the exact time. She was telling him she had obtained a restraining order against him. The couple also had argued earlier in the day in a South Bay parking lot.

These arguments have led to speculation Brown could have been distracted or not attentive later as the limo's passenger section filled with smoke and subsequently broke out in flames.

"I'm sure he could have saved them, but he was too busy on the phone and I know he was videotaping," Hernandez-Brown said.

Earlier this month, Hernandez-Brown discovered videos of the limo fire on her husband's cellphone. It haunts her that five women died in the fire.

"I seen the cars and the next thing I know just see this flame," she said.

Efforts to reach limo driver Orville Brown have been unsuccessful. A brother would only say, "He looks forward to the official findings of the formal investigation."

Hernandez-Brown says her husband is hoping to reconcile and is hoping to share in a windfall from lawsuits that will give them a chance for a fresh start.

"I don't want that on my conscience, not at all," Hernandez-Brown said. "I don't want that on my conscience. I don't even want my kids to have it. And I'm poor."


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