Five students were among 10 dead in yesterday's horrific bus crash in Northern California, a California Highway Patrol official said today.
L.A. Unified School District students were on that bus, which was headed to Humboldt State University as part of a tour for college-bound students, but there was no way to tell at this point if any of the dead were from Los Angeles public schools. An LAUSD spokeswoman told us there were students from San Francisco, Fresno and even from L.A. charter schools aboard the vehicle.
The CHP said that a FedEx big-rig heading south on the 5 freeway in Orland, California, about 100 miles north of Sacramento …
… jumped the center divider and collided head-on with the northbound bus that was carrying 43 students and three chaperones.
According to a CHP statement:
For reasons unknown, the Fed Ex truck left the roadway, crossed the center divide, entered the northbound lanes, side swiped the Nissan [Altima] and subsequently collided head on with the bus. Upon impact there was an immediate explosion and both vehicles became fully engulfed with fire.
A CHP spokeswoman confirmed that the death toll had climbed to 10 today, including 5 students. Thirty-four others were injured, the state cops said.
The LAUSD today stated that 19 local public school students from 16 of its campuses were on the bus:
The high schools include: San Fernando, Dorsey, Fremont, City of Angels, Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, Manual Arts, Banning, Carson, Chavez, Diego Rivera, Belmont, Wilson, Chatsworth, Jefferson and Middle College. Only one or two students participated from each school.
A spokeswoman told us “we may not know for months” who the deceased are. The bodies were badly burned. School counselors were sent to the affected campuses, she said.
The crash was reported at 5:40 p.m. yesterday, the CHP said. It happened on the 5 north of State Route 32.
The driver of the Nissan, ID'd as 53-year-old Bonnie Duran of Lake Tapps, California, suffered only minor injuries, the CHP said in a statement.
The big-rig was powered by a 2007 Volvo semi, according to the CHP. The accident happened in dry, clear conditions, highway patrol officials said.
The cause was still under investigation.
[Added at 3:51 p.m.]: LAUSD school board member Monica Garcia released this statement:
Today is a sad day at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was impacted by yesterday's heartbreaking news. I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to the families facing the pain of their loss. To those that are injured, we will be with you as you recover. We are all deeply saddened for all students, families and schools who are still in shock and struggling to accept such a nightmare.
I am grateful to the LAUSD leadership for providing vital services and essential information as we continue to learn more details. We thank all the different entities involved for their immediate emergency response and assistance to all the students and their families. We are committed to help students and families heal during this difficult time.
[Added at 4:08 p.m.]: LAUSD board president Richard Vladovic issued this statement:
As Board President, on behalf of our LAUSD family, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected by this tragedy. I would like to thank and praise our LAUSD team for coming together so quickly and diligently in this time of need. These students are among the district's brightest and it is our priority to bring them home and support the families and friends who have been impacted. I am confident that the Superintendent and his team will continue to work around the clock to achieve this. I want to thank the first responders and medical staff for their hard work. My heart goes out to the families and the school districts that have suffered a loss.