These high school students will never forget the moment their bus exploded into a smoldering inferno.
Dozens of Los Angeles teens were aboard the charter bus to Humboldt State University when a FedEx truck barreled into it. The dreadful crash killed 10 and injured at least 30 in Orland, roughly 100 miles north of Sacramento.
“It was just a big bang. I had my eyes closed. I was trying to go to sleep,” Jonathan Gutierrez, 17, told NBC Los Angeles. “When I heard it I was just like, ‘What just happened?’ I didn’t want to believe that we crashed, but it was a surreal moment.”
The painful collision immediately sparked a fire that quickly roared out of control, and many passengers smashed their windows open to escape from the blaze, Gutierrez said.
“It was very hard to breathe,” he added. “I started to panic, just overwhelmed with what was going on, so I just grabbed my phone and I jumped out. I had no shoes on or anything.”
Gutierrez was going to sit in the front of the bus but wound up taking a spot toward the back because of a friend. He can only imagine how things would have played out if he did not listen; the front of the bus bore the brunt of the damage.
Another student, Karmin Aguilar, also discussed what she saw inside the bus with the local station.
“I looked forward to the bus and I just see fire,” she told NBC Los Angeles. “Just fire, a ball of fire.”
Aguilar said that everyone was desperately trying to cram through the windows.