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Investigation Continues Into What Caused Deadly Crash Near Orland

Jeff Chiu / AP
 

Jeff Chiu / AP

(AP) -- The National Transportation Safety Board is re-examining bus safety rules in the wake of last Thursday's crash that killed 10 in Orland, near Chico.

Investigators say evidence shows the truck driver didn't apply brakes and that a FedEx truck wasn't on fire before the crash as a witness claimed. The NTSB is wrapping up the initial stages of their investigation.

A spokesman says investigators have gathered much of the key evidence from the crash site and continue to collect records. The entire probe could last more than a year. Initial evidence suggests the truck driver had veered across an Interstate 5 median, sideswiped a sedan and crashed into the bus without applying brakes.

Investigators will look for possible reasons, including mechanical failure and if the driver was incapacitated. The NTSB is also looking at whether fire safety measures could have allowed more of the 48 bus occupants to escape unharmed.

Federal investigators said Sunday that they haven't found physical evidence confirming a witness' claim that the FedEx truck was on fire before it slammed into the  bus.

NTSB member Mark Rosekind says investigators are not ruling out a pre-impact fire, but a fire expert did not find evidence of flames as the truck crossed the median.

Bonnie Duran, who drove the Altima and survived with minor injuries, told investigators and reporters Saturday that she had seen flames emerging from the lower rear of the truck's cab as it approached her car. The bus was gutted and the truck was a mangled mess after an explosion sent flames towering and black smoke billowing, making it difficult for investigators to track the source of the fire.

Rosekind says a blood test of the FedEx truck driver could indicate whether he inhaled smoke before his death. A family member told the Sacramento Bee that the truck driver was 32-year-old Tim Evans of Elk Grove, Calif.


California Report: Federal authorities investigating last week's deadly collision of a Fed-Ex trailer truck and a charter bus full of high school students on their way to tour Humbolt State University plan to interview witnesses in Los Angeles today and the owners of the bus that carried nine of the 10 people killed in the accident. They've also launched an investigation into passenger safety on buses and how to improve it.