Fiery Crash Fuels Investigation and Devastation For All

by Jana Ritter - Published: 4/14/2014

This past week we’ve heard non-stop coverage about the fatal crash that occurred in California last Thursday. The horrific tragedy that occurred when a Fed-ex crossed into the oncoming lane and crashed into a charter bus carrying 44 students from Southern California on their way to tour Humboldt State University.

Cute couple

The collision caused an immediate explosion, killing five students, three adult chaperones and both drivers. Some victim were ejected from the bus, others engulfed in flames and others still alive able to recount the horror to reporters, yet forever traumatized nonetheless. Then there are the families and friends of the victims, facing their own lifetime of suffering with loss of their loved ones – especially those who died at such as young age.

But what the news coverage is focusing on least is what truck drivers and their families know most. Anything can go wrong when you’re driving a big rig, even when you’re doing everything right and the families of truck drivers suffer just as much from their loss. Candice Otto Evans was a strong reminder of this when she posted a touching letter and photo on Facebook. “He was my best friend, my teammate, my rock, my partner in crime, my everything,” she wrote. Candace was the wife of the Fed-ex driver, Tim Evans. He was heading home to Elk Grove, to what he loved best: his wife, who had been his high school sweetheart, and his two young daughters. He was only 32 years old.

While less is known about Talalelei Lealao-Taiao, the Charter bus driver who also died in the crash, it is confirmed that both men had clean driving records. The California Department of Motor Vehicles said neither driver had any moving violations. One witness even said Evan’s FedEx truck was already in flames as it came through the median. "It wasn't like the whole thing was engulfed. It was coming up wrapping around him, “ explains the Sedan driver sideswiped by the truck.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are still trying to figure out the exact cause and event of the crash. They’ve been gathering video footage and witness accounts to piece together the sequence of events, with two new pieces of video evidence that came forward. One is cellphone video shot by the driver of a Nissan Sedan hit by the truck just before it slammed into the bus. The other is footage from a dashboard camera provided by the California Highway Patrol. More clues may also be available from a black box-type recorder on the bus that collects vehicle data.

While the FedEx truck was also was equipped with a recorder, it was destroyed in the fire and investigators are looking for clues in the exact nature of the contents being hauled by Evans at the time of the crash.