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Scene re-creation helps CHP investigate Orland bus crash

Published On: Apr 17 2014 08:55:12 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 17 2014 09:00:00 PM CDT

Scene re-creation helps CHP investigate Orland bus crash

ORLAND, Calif. -

The California Highway Patrol is giving insight into their findings, while continuing to investigate the mass-casualty crash in Orland.

The collision was between a FedEx tractor trailer and a charter bus, filled with students, headed to Humboldt State from Los Angeles last Thursday, April 10.

CHP officials addressed the national and local media Thursday. They said the vehicles were so badly damaged it has made the investigation quite difficult. They spent Thursday afternoon re-creating the travel of those large vehicles.

"We get like-vehicles so that we can put them through the similar situation so that we can gain the information from those vehicles," said CHP Captain Todd Morrison.

The investigation is being headed by the Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team. While traffic moved as normal on Interstate 5 through Orland, it was slowed at times, for investigators to test the movement.

"So these are almost duplicates, you know. Replicas of the vehicles that were involved in the collision," said CHP Northern Division officer Lacey Heitman. "So they are going to provide a lot of vital information as to how the vehicles reacted during the collision."

CHP officials said both vehicles had "black box-like recorders" in them but retrieving that information will be difficult since they were badly burned.

Investigators also said they are working to examine the records of both drivers' cell phone usage around the time of the crash to determine if distracted driving played a factor.

Thursday's simulation included speed tests, as well as skid testing of the charter bus.

"They're looking at speeds - what the drivers were able to see. As well as brake applications on the bus and tire friction marks," said Heitman.

Investigators also released the 911 calls from Thursday's crash, as witnesses and the individuals involved in the collision explained what they were seeing to dispatchers as it was happening.

Officials are still seeking information from witnesses who saw the crash or anyone who may have photos.  You are asked to contact the CHP Officer Lacey Heitman at (530) 225-2715 or email lheitman@chp.ca.gov.