ONLY ON ABC7NEWS.COM: 'We were looking death in the face,' University choir from Alabama escapes fiery bus crash on Hwy 101

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KGO) -- An Alabama university Choir described a fight for survival minutes after arriving in the Bay Area. Their tour bus caught fire after being struck by an SUV early this Saturday morning on Highway 101.

The choir known as "The Aeolians" from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama gave an emotional performance at the Philadelphian Seventh-day Adventist church in San Francisco, only hours after surviving a terrifying bus crash and fire.

"Even now, it's something out of a movie, but it's real," said Choir manager Vilroy McBean.

McBean says the 18 members of the group were traveling on a bus from SFO to their hotel in San Francisco when there was an accident involving three cars in lanes of Northbound 101 near Brisbane.

The CHP says it appears that the bus could not stop in time, and slammed into one of the cars. Seconds later, the bus was rear-ended by an SUV.

"The force of the major collision in the back of the bus threw me forward down the steps," said McBean.

RELATED: Bus involved in deadly crash on Highway 101 was transporting choir students from Alabama

The driver of the SUV was killed. The CHP identified the driver as a man in his 50's.

The Impact of the crash started a fire, which started to engulf the bus flames.

"At that moment, we didn't know we were watching death, we were looking death in the face," said Assistant choir director Stephen Murphy.

Choir members say the bus driver tried to help.

"He got a fire extinguisher and tried but the fire was too strong, " said McBean.

Everyone on the bus escaped the burning wreckage.

The bus is operated by Peninsula Tour Company in San Francisco, ABC7 tried to reach someone but the office was closed.

Although most of the choir's luggage was destroyed in the fire, the group was determined to perform for those who had hoped to see them.

"Everything's gone-- but we're going to give praise for saving our lives, said McBean.

Drivers of three other cars involved in the accident were taken to the hospital.

The Aeolians are scheduled to perform Sunday at San Francisco's Third Baptist Church at 5 PM -- admission is free.
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