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Investigators reenact Northern California fatal bus crash

CHP investigators reenacted Thursday the collision between a FedEx semi-truck and a charter tour bus that killed 10.
April 17, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Audio of frantic 911 calls was released Thursday of the fatal crash between a tour bus and a FedEx truck that occurred in Orland, California last week.

On Thursday, CHP investigators reenacted the collision that killed 10 including the two drivers and high school students en route to visit Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif. on April 10.

Investigators tested two similar vehicles for braking and handling capabilities. Evidence shows the bus had been braking for about 145 feet before the collision; the truck did not appear to have braked at all before the head-on crash.

Witnesses say the FedEx truck was traveling southbound on the 5 Freeway when it veered into northbound lanes, sideswiped a car, then crashed into the tour bus, creating an explosion and flames.

Investigators were trying to figure out how fast the bus and truck were going, and why the two huge vehicles collided.

"What we're doing today is performing control testing with example vehicles -- these are kind of sister/clone vehicles of the actual vehicles that were involved in this collision," said CHP Northern Division Chief Ruben Leal.

Officials now know that the truck driver was attempting to change lanes when he suddenly careened across the grassy median. Investigators say the tour bus driver slammed on the brakes, skidding for 145 feet. There were no skid marks from the truck.

"It's important to know that 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 Leal.

Forty-three high-schoolers were onboard the charter bus. Some were forced to smash through windows to escape. Many survivors could only helplessly watch as many of their friends died, unable to get out of the burning wreckage.

Investigators say it could take three to six months to get to the bottom of the crash. They're hoping not only to figure out why the wreck happened, but also how to prevent something like this from happening again.


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