The Washington Post

‘Horrific crash’ ended college dreams for California students

California officials still don’t know what caused the massive accident that killed 10 on a California highway Thursday evening.

But as the details trickle out, including more about who these Los Angeles area teenagers and adults were, the tragedy is already underscored by the knowledge that for some, dreams of going to college were ended forever.

That detail came by way of Timothy White, Chancellor of California State University, who noted that many of the students who were on their way to a college visit at Humboldt State University were “first generation…the very students California needs to move forward.”

“These were students that were graduating and accepted and going to visit a place that was obviously of their dreams … That’s quite painful,” added Los Angeles Schools Superintended John Deasy, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Images from the accident have made it clear that the crash created a massive high-temperature fire, and officials added Friday that they believe it started almost immediately upon impact, killing students in the front and some in the middle of the bus.

Authorities are still investigating a number of possible reasons for the crash, including whether the driver fell asleep or perhaps swerved to move out of the way of another vehicle.

That other car was described as a sedan by highway patrol officials, but there was no additional information provided about exactly how it was invoked in the crash. The occupants of that vehicle suffered only mild to moderate injuries.

On the bus, however, it seems that a majority of the 48 on board suffered injuries. Thirty-one victims went to seven area hospitals and are in a range of conditions, from critical to having only minor injuries. Nine victims were pronounced dead at the scene, and a tenth died of injuries at a hospital.

The burns were so severe on those who died that the process of identifying victims could rely on dental records and DNA.

Abby Phillip is a national political reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at On Twitter: @abbydphillip

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