A tour bus carrying high school students from Los Angeles was in a horrific crash this afternoon, leaving nine confirmed dead and as many as fifty wounded when a semi-truck collided with the bus as well as a Nissan Altima on the freeway.
The accident occurred on California I-5 North, closing all northbound and southbound traffic just a few miles north of the city of Orland. Southbound traffic is being diverted around the accident at County Road 7 while northbound traffic has been halted at Highway 32.
CHP is continuing its investigation, but preliminary reports say that a FedEx truck crossed over the I-5 median to hit the school tour bus driving on the northbound side. The bus burst into flames almost immediately, according to CHP.
Witnesses say that both vehicles were aflame, and that multiple fire departments responded to the blaze. Firefighters were continuing to pull people out of the tour bus as they fought the fire. Multiple explosions were also heard at the crash site, and another witness reported that passengers were moved to the southbound lane for triage, away from the accident and fires. Firefighters reported that the fire was contained around 6:20 p.m.
The numbers from the high school bus crash have up to 50 people injured along with the nine confirmed dead. At least ten ambulances were dispatched to the scene, along with three helicopters. A mass casualty trailer has reportedly been called up from Chico and Corning. According to Willows Highway Patrol, the number of dead may rise, as a number of people are still unaccounted for.
At 7 p.m., one of the helicopters took off with an injured occupant with a head injury, who was flown to Mercy Medical Center. Another girl, 17, was taken to the same hospital with various injuries as well as a neck brace. According to dispatchers, Mercy’s helipad had multiple incoming copters, and the hospital was busy with patients from the crash.
Another young woman, 18, was taken to Shasta Regional Medical Center. She had been sitting in the back of the tour bus and had cuts in addition to back pain, according to paramedics.
Enloe hospital’s Type 2 Trauma center has reportedly received four patients thus far, according to Action News Now, and could receive up to 11.
The high school students were from a school in Los Angeles and were reportedly in the area on a tour of California State University, Humboldt. The bus was carrying 46 people and belonged to Silverado Stages, a company of tour buses from San Luis Obispo. According to school officials, the group was to attend a Spring Preview day for the university on April 12.
Parents and family members of those who might have been in the high school bus crash can call the university police at 707-826-5555 for more information.
With nine confirmed dead in this high school bus crash, officers will no doubt continue to investigate what caused the semi to careen over the median and into the tour bus and smaller car to cause the fatal collision.
By Marisa Corley
The Record Searchlight
Action News Now