Investigators conduct tests with FedEx truck, tour bus

Investigators conducted various tests with a FedEx truck and a tour bus to gather more information on what happened in a crash.
April 17, 2014 7:17:55 PM PDT
Investigators are looking for answers and retracing the moments before a FedEx truck slammed into a tour bus filled with college hopefuls one week ago. They ran a series of tests on Interstate 5 on Thursday, in an effort to gather a little more information to put together a much larger scenario.

Ten people died in the crash one week ago west of Chico, near the town of Orland. There is a memorial site set up near the crash site. The bus was carrying 44 Southern California high school students to Humboldt State University on April 10.

Also, 911 recordings were released and some of the callers were victims inside the bus. By the time the first 911 calls came in, the situation on I-5 in Orland was already, a catastrophe.

One caller said, "Yeah, I need to report an accident between a semi and a tour bus. We have a massive fire. We have all kinds of students out here on the highway right now."

As the students poured out of the burning bus, kicking out windows to scramble to safety, some of them had enough composure to call 911 themselves.

One caller said, "The bus hit the FedEx truck. The FedEx truck hit into us. Yeah, head on."

"We owe it to the families of the involved parties and the victims of this tragic collision that we tell the story of what happened," said Captain Todd, the CHP Investigator.

In the meantime, the CHP continues its exhaustive effort to investigate a collision that claimed 10 lives, five of them high school students from Southern California.

As part of the larger effort, investigators conducted a series of tests on the same section of roadway where the accident occurred using a FedEx big rig and a tour bus, very much like the ones involved. One of the exercises was called a skid test.

"...Which involves analyzing the coefficient of friction, which is basically the sticking power of the vehicles on the asphalt, so that we can hopefully identify, get as closely as we can to estimating the pre-impact speed of both of these vehicles," said CHP Chief Ruben Leal.

Both vehicles had data recorders, but they were badly burned and may not yield much information. The coroner has completed the autopsies, but is awaiting toxicology results to help determine if either driver had a health issue or was somehow impaired at the time of the crash. Their cellphone records will also be examined.

"The ultimate goal is to number one, find out what happened, how this traffic collision occurred and do what we do as a law enforcement agency to prevent things like this in the future," said Morrison.

The CHP is the lead agency and they expect it will take them about three to six months to complete their investigation. The NTSB is also conducting its own investigation.


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