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July 14, 2015 4:00 PM, EDT

Investigators Unable to Determine Why Trucker Crossed Median in 2014 Crash That Killed 10

Federal investigators said they could not determine what caused a truck driver to cross the median in a fiery truck-motorcoach crash last year in Orland, California, that killed 10 people.

In a July 14 National Transportation Safety Board hearing, the board said a FedEx Freight Inc. truck hauling twin trailers crossed a 58-foot-wide median, struck a passenger car and collided head-on with a motorcoach.

The drivers of both the truck and the motorcoach were killed, as were eight passengers in the bus, in the April 10, 2014, crash. A total of 37 passengers in the bus and two occupants of the car were injured.

Investigators said they do not believe that the truck driver was fatigued, nor did he have any health problems. However, they could not determine what caused him to cross the median.

“Based on the truck driver’s lack of braking or other appropriate reaction prior to or during the crash sequence — and witness accounts concerning the driver’s behavior and condition — he was unresponsive due to an unknown cause, which prevented him from controlling his vehicle and led to the crash,” the board found. 

The board issued a slate of motorcoach recommendations intended to mitigate fire danger and help bus passengers more quickly exit a vehicle in the event of fire, and said that both heavy trucks and buses should be equipped with event data recorders designed to withstand serious crashes, similar to aircraft black boxes.

“Neither unit was a dedicated crash EDR, which would likely have survived the forces and thermal conditions of the crash, and would have provided critical data on driver inputs and vehicle dynamics throughout the collision sequence,” the NTSB stated.