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Bus crash witness: Victims leaped out, didn't know they were hurt

April 14, 2014|By Joseph Serna and Chris Megerian

Most of the teen and adult passengers of a charter bus that was hit by a FedEx freight truck emerged bruised, bloodied and unaware they had been injured because of shock, said a witness who lives near the crash site.

“They were just like, ‘What happened?’” said Ryan Householder, 31, whose mobile home faces the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 in Orland. “Their adrenaline was pumping so bad none of ‘em knew they were injured, even those with blood all over their clothes.”

Householder described to the Los Angeles Times the immediate aftermath of Thursday night’s crash, in which 10 people were killed – including five Southern California high school students en route to Humboldt State University for a spring tour.

California Highway Patrol investigators continue to examine what caused the FedEx truck to lose control and go across the interstate median and crash with oncoming traffic. Three tour chaperons and both vehicles’ drivers were the other victims.

“The emergency windows opened up first … people were just being launched out of it,” Householder said.

Witnesses described at least one explosion as soon as the two vehicles collided. Householder said the passengers were jumping out of windows on the rear half of the bus.

“There was so much smoke and flame you couldn’t see the front side of the bus,” he said. "To see that much havoc all in one time… it’s mentally got me pretty bad, you know? I’d never seen something like that in real life. That’s movies, Hollywood. Theatrics.”

The Glenn County coroner said Monday that none of the 10 victims has been positively identified because of the extent of the damage to the bodies. Authorities are relying on dental records and DNA.

But victims' families have confirmed some of the names. Among the dead was 19-year-old Adrian Castro from El Monte High School. School officials said there will be a candlelight vigil Monday at 7 p.m. in the campus quad.

On Monday, Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino announced his office had partnered with Sharefest to set up a fund for all of the crash victims. Donations can be made online. Checks can be made payable to Sharefest with “Humboldt bus crash victims assistance fund” in the memo line. The money should be sent to Sharefest Community Development, 3480 Torrance Blvd. No. 110, Torrance, CA 90503.


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Joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @josephserna

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