The Associated Press reports the tragic news of a college visitation going terribly awry on a Thursday afternoon in California.
On that day close to 5:30 p.m., a FedEx big rig swerved across a highway median, sideswiped a car and slammed into a tour bus that held 44 teenagers along with Humboldt alumni chaperones and admission counselors on their way to Humboldt State University for a college tour.
After the initial impact, passengers frantically scrambled out of the bus through a kicked-out window after feeling the hit bus shake and hearing a loud boom. Most survivors were able to run to the other side of the highway before the bus burst into flames with two explosions. Survivors helplessly watched from the other side of Interstate 5 as flames swallowed the bus carrying their closest friends, peers and mentor figures. Firemen walked away from the scene leaving massive bent and blackened metal with bodies draped in blankets.
Parents and loved ones of the travelers waited on Thursday and Friday for news. Ten died from the collision, and dozens were hospitalized with burns and broken bones.
The collision dashed the dreams of five of the 44 low-income high school students looking to take advantage of a life-changing opportunity. Many of the students on that bus would be first generation college students, the first in their families to take that major step. As two of the buses arrived on the lush Humboldt campus that Thursday, news that something went terribly wrong slowly arrived to the staff and students. Among the ones waiting, Marisol Serrato, waited for her identical twin sister to arrive only to find out Friday that it would not be so.
The final count of the ten dead consists of two drivers, three adult chaperones and five students.
As both the city and the university deal with the news, authorities are still trying to determine why the FedEx truck careened over the median. Michael Vodarsik, FedEx’s CEO, is providing support to the families of those deceased as well as hospitalized passengers.
University President Rollin Richmond welcomes the the accident survivors to return whenever they are ready.
Image via NDN