Nine people were dead in a fiery Interstate 5 crash that involved a bus carrying high school students from the Los Angeles area who were headed to Humboldt State University for a college tour, according to the California Highway Patrol and reports.
KCAL9 News, citing L.A. Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy, reported that students from Robert F. Kennedy High School were on the bus. Students from Manual Arts High School might also have been on the bus, the station said. An LAUSD spokeswoman confirmed to us that L.A. public school students were on that bus and that LAUSD officials were headed to the crash site tonight.
It's not clear how many, if any, of the dead are students. The bus collided with a truck about 5:41 p.m. about 100 miles north of Sacramento in Orland, California, a Caltrans official told LA Weekly:
Forty-six people were reportedly onboard the bus. The crash in northbound lanes happened about 2 miles north of Highway 32, the Caltrans employee told us.
CHP officials urged parents worried about their children to contact the Red Cross' Safe & Well program, linked here.
It's not clear what precipitated the crash, but there were reports that a FedEx truck (the Caltrans official called it a 'big-rig") crossed lanes before slamming into the bus.
The cause was under investigation.
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The CHP said the whole freeway would be closed until 7 a.m. as a result of the inquiry.
[Update at 10:24 p.m.]: LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy released this statement:
We were deeply saddened to learn about the tragic accident that took place earlier today near Humboldt State University. At this time, we do not know how many L.A. Unified students were victims of the crash.
We are providing support at the site. We will be providing support at District schools tomorrow morning.
An information line has been set up for families by Humboldt State University Police at 707-826-6327.
When more information is confirmed, an update will be provided.