Most victims of fiery California bus crash died of smoke inhalation

Reuters
A FedEx truck drives past a makeshift memorial beside Interstate 5 in Orland, California
A FedEx truck drives past a makeshift memorial, set up in memory of those who died last week when a FedEx truck collided with a tour bus, beside Interstate 5 in Orland, California, April 17, 2014. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

(Reuters) - Most of the 10 people killed in a fiery crash of a bus full of college hopefuls in Northern California survived the initial impact and died of smoke inhalation from flames that engulfed the vehicle, the county coroner said on Tuesday.

Seven of those who died after a FedEx truck crashed into the bus taking high school students to a college recruitment event in April succumbed to asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation, while two died of trauma sustained in the crash, the Glenn County Coroner's Office said.

The office declined to provide further detail on which victims died of what injuries.

The last victim, a 26-year-old college recruiter, died of injuries from the fire after the crash, Sacramento County Coroner Kim Gin said. He was transported to UC Davis where he died.

The dead in the crash in the city of Orland, an agricultural community north of Sacramento, included five Los Angeles-area students on their way to tour a Northern California university campus, as well as their chaperones and both drivers.

While traveling south on Interstate 5, the FedEx truck gradually veered left and crossed a 58-foot-wide median before entering oncoming lanes of traffic, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report published in April.

The truck then swiped a Nissan sedan with two passengers, who were not seriously injured, before colliding with the tour bus, the report said. The vehicles caught fire and flames engulfed the truck and burned the bus.

The driver of the FedEx truck had driven more than 350 miles and worked over seven hours towing two semi-trailers before ramming the tour bus full of students, the NTSB said.

In addition to the 10 people who died, more than 30 bus passengers received injuries of varying degrees, the NTSB said.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in New York; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)