The driver of a FedEx truck that veered across a Northern California freeway median and slammed into a tour bus carrying dozens of Los Angeles-area high school students, killing 10 people, was found to be at fault in the crash, California Highway Patrol officials said Friday.
According to the CHP, truck driver Tim Evans, 32, made an “unsafe turning movement” while traveling south on the Golden State (5) Freeway in Orland on April 10, 2014. The FedEx truck traveled across the grass median at a “shallow angle” and hit a northbound Nissan and the bus without any evidence of turning or braking, CHP Sgt. Nathan Parsons said.
“We’re not able to determine whether he fell asleep or not,” Parsons said. “… He had no evasive maneuvers during the collision. So no braking, no indication of steering to turn the truck out of its direct path.”
Parsons said he could not say whether the driver was negligent.
“He could have fell asleep. He could have had an undiagnosed medical condition. We’re not able to prove either,” he said.
Parsons said none of the drivers involved in the crash had any known medical conditions that could have contributed to the collision. He noted, however, that due to the condition of Evans’ body after the crash, investigators could not determine if he may have suffered some type of medical emergency that caused him to cross the median and drive into the northbound freeway lanes.
He said investigators also determined that none of the drivers were using cell phones or were impaired by drugs or alcohol.
According to the CHP, there was some evidence that Evans may have been fatigued or sleepy, including:
— he was driving alone on a long, straight stretch of roadway;
— an angle of departure consistent with fatigue-related crashes;
— no attempt to avoid a collision; and
— a witness report that he was slumped toward the driver’s side window as he approached opposing traffic.
Ten people died in the crash. The Silverado Stages tour bus carrying the students and chaperones was being driven north on Interstate 5 when it was struck by a southbound FedEx big rig whose driver veered off the freeway and crossed a lengthy grass median. The truck struck a Nissan Altima before plowing into the tour bus, which burst into flames.
Evans and the driver of the tour bus both died in the crash. In addition to the 10 people who died, 39 others were injured.
Those killed in the crash were:
— Michael Myvett and Mattison Haywood, who were serving as chaperones on the trip and had gotten engaged during a December 2013 trip to Paris;
— Denise Gomez and Ismael Jimenez, the reigning homecoming queen and king at Animo Charter High School in Inglewood;
— Jennifer Bonilla, a Los Angeles Dorsey High School honor student who had won a college scholarship and was considered a campus leader by school administrators;
— Adrian Castro, a popular El Monte High School football player who fellow students referred to as a positive role model;
— Marisa Serrato, a church-going student at Norte Vista High School in Riverside, and whose identical twin, Marisol, made the trip on a different bus and was not injured;
— bus driver Talalelei Lealao-Taiao;
— chaperone Arthur Arzola, 26, of Rancho Cucamonga, who was a college recruiter helping to lead the excursion to Humboldt State; and
— Evans, a lifelong resident of the Sacramento area who had married his high school sweetheart, fathered two daughters and helped coach their soccer and softball teams.
—City News Service