Two of the victims were a Los Angeles couple who were recently engaged in Paris. Another victim was 26-year old Arthur Arzola who was a recruiter for Humboldt State University who worked out of Los Angeles.
"People just started screaming and then I looked up and right as I looked up, the bus driver slammed on the brakes," said 18-year-old student Harley Hoyt.
Hoyt was in the back of the bus as it approached Orland on northbound Interstate 5 Thursday night. As it turned out, it was that spot, right next to an emergency exit that likely saved his life.
With his lip bleeding and his armed scraped, Hoyt scrambled to the southbound side of the freeway only to see the bus and the FedEx truck explode in flames.
"Everyone just like, like was laying on the grass; like just people were out of it, people were crying, people were like pulling their hair. People were screaming," he said.
A high school senior from San Diego, Hoyt was one of the fortunate ones and reunited with his family less than 24 hours after the accident that killed so many others.
"He's got bigger plans for Harley, because he definitely had an angel with him," said Hoyt's father.
In Orland, another family was having the opposite experience minutes after getting the news that their daughter did not survive the same crash.
A couple who lives close to where the accident happened came to the Veteran's Center to offer what they could.
"We wanted to see if we could come and give them a hug, or tell them that we're praying for them," said volunteer Juliana Gregory.
The size of the fire and the high number of injuries overwhelmed local fire departments. So, other agencies rushed from across the Sacramento Valley to help out at the scene.
The National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the crash site Friday and will conduct an investigation.
A witness says the FedEx truck was on fire before it crashed into the tour bus, but that detail has not yet been confirmed by authorities.
Volunteers said Friday night that all of the survivors had left the Red Cross shelter and are heading back to Southern California.