The couple inside the Nissan Altima who watched the deadly Northern California bus crash said the FedEx truck was already up in flames when it crossed lanes and struck the tour bus head-on.
"It was in flames as it came through the median," Bonnie Duran said, "It was already in flames. It wasn’t coming from the front engine, it was more from behind the cab."
Bonnie and Joe Duran were driving back to home to the Seattle-area at the time of the crash. They were driving in front of the charter bus.
The crash occurred about 5:40 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 5 near Orland, when a FedEx truck crossed a 60-foot median and hit a Duran's Nissan Altima and a charter bus carrying dozens of Southern California high school students.
"Look to the left and there it was, coming through right at me at an angle and I could tell I wasn’t going to outrun him so I just kind of turned to the right and he hit me just like that," Bonnie Duran said.
The truck hit the front door of Duran's Altima and then ripped off the back door and the back trunk, Joe Duran said.
"You just think, 'I’m dead, I’m dead.' And when it swiped us it felt like we floated, we kind of just floated right off to the ditch," Joe Duran said. "We looked at eachother, literally at the same time we go 'we’re alive!"
The pair was expected to interview with California Highway Patrol officials on Saturday. Their account differs from other statements by the CHP that the blaze erupted after the FedEx truck collided with the bus.
Nine people died at the scene of Thursday's crash, and a 10th victim died at a hospital, California Highway Patrol officials said early Friday.
Those killed included five students and five adults who were traveling to Humboldt State University for a campus visit.