NTSB posts prelim report on FedEx truck, charter bus fatal crash

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Monday, April 28, 2014

The National Transportation Safety Board has published a preliminary report on a crash between a FedEx tandem tractor-trailer and a charter bus carrying high school seniors to a college visit.

A spokesman for the NTSB said the report is preliminary, and will be updated as additional facts and information are revealed through the course of the agency’s investigation, which could take between 12 and 18 months to complete.

“(The report) will be updated, and additional facts will come in,” said Keith Holloway, a public affairs officer with NTSB.

At 5:40 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, a 2007 Volvo pulling two 28-foot trailers operated by FedEx was traveling southbound in the right lane of Interstate 5 in Orland, Calif. At the same time, a 2014 Setra motorcoach operated by Silverado Stages Inc., with 43 high school students and three adult chaperones was traveling northbound on I-5 in the right traffic lane.

Near milepost 26.02, the truck and trailers veered to the left and entered the median. The vehicle drove through a line of bushes in the median and entered the northbound traffic lanes, striking a car before colliding with the oncoming bus. The truck and bus departed the highway to the east, and a post-crash fire ensued, according to the report.

As a result of the collision, the drivers of both the tractor-trailer and the bus were killed, along with eight bus passengers. The remaining passengers suffered various degrees of injuries. The occupants of the car received minor injuries.

One lawsuit has already been filed by the mother of one of the high school students. Rosa Rivera is suing FedEx and Silverado Stages for $100 million on behalf of her daughter, who died in the crash. Rivera’s wrongful-death suit alleges that the tractor-trailer was on fire before striking the bus, and that FedEx tractor-trailers have a history of catching on fire due to mechanical problems, driver error, or improper loading of cargo. A FedEx spokesman previously declined to discuss the allegations of the lawsuit, but said the company is working to cooperate with the investigation.

Holloway said so far the investigation has not found any signs that the rig caught fire before impact.

The FedEx truck and trailers had originally departed from the FedEx facility in Sacramento at about 10:00 a.m. and drove to Weeds, Calif., approximately 49 miles south of the Oregon border. The driver, Timothy P. Evans, delivered two trailers and picked up two more 28-foot tandems before departing back for Sacramento at 3:30 p.m.

Holloway said investigators will look at Evans’ hours of service for the 72-hour period prior to the crash.

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