Fatal US blaze limo had too many passengers—police

A+
A
A-

A limousine in which a Filipino bride and four friends died when it erupted in flames was carrying more passengers than its normal limit, an official and reports said Monday. AP PHOTO

SAN FRANCISCO—A limousine in which a Filipina bride and four friends died when it erupted in flames was carrying more passengers than its normal limit, an official and reports said Monday.

The victims died desperately trying to scramble through a partition to the driver’s section of the limo, which was en route to a wedding party near San Francisco on Saturday night, a coroner said.

Four passengers survived. The driver of the limo was quoted as saying he initially thought the women, reportedly all nurses, were asking him if they could smoke, but misheard them because they were playing loud music.

The victims’ bodies were found up against the partition at the front of the vehicle, which caught fire on the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge, across San Francisco Bay.

“This particular vehicle is listed .. as for carrying eight or fewer passengers .. there were nine people in this vehicle,” California Highway Patrol (CHP) captain Mike Maskarich told reporters.

According to media reports, 31-year-old newlywed Neriza Fojas was traveling with eight friends in their 30s and 40s to a wedding shower in nearby Foster City when the limo burst into flames.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Fojas, who lived in Fresno, California, had recently married and had planned to return to her native Philippines for another ceremony next month.

It quoted the driver, Orville Brown, as saying he initially misheard when one of them tried to get his attention through the partition.

“They had the music up in the back, and I figured she was asking, ‘Can I smoke?'” he told the newspaper. “I said, ‘The owner doesn’t allow smoking in the car, and we only have four minutes to the destination.’ ”

Less than 15 seconds later the women knocked again. he said. This time, when he rolled down the partition, they were shouting, “Smoke, smoke!” and “Pull over, pull over!”

He helped some of the survivors to safety but was unable to save the women in the back. “We got out by the grace of God. I just wish that I could have done more,” the newspaper cited him as saying.

San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said the bodies of the victims “were found forward of the limousine in between the partition, the passenger compartment and the driver’s compartment.

“When we got there … they were up against the partition .. They were getting away from the fire and that’s why they were in the front, towards the partition.

“You could also probably say that they were trying to get out,” added Foucrault, who told the San Francisco Chronicle” “This is one of the most horrific things I’ve seen in 21 years with this office.”

Maskarich said it was too early to say whether criminal charges would be brought over the tragedy. “It’s going to depend on what we find in the course of the investigation,” he said.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • desi derata

    Another stupid American “shoot from the hip” statement, implying that the cause of fire was that the limo was having one too many passengers.

    Hey stupid policemen and news writers, the cause of the fire was not that the load was heavy considering that the passengers were not as fat and big as ordinary American. Even if you have taken the gross weight of the load, you will not find the car as overloaded.

    And there was a news clip focusing on the toxicology exam for the dead, implying once again that the passengers were intoxicated. Again, the cause of the fire would not be alcohol or self-imolation.

    The driver scooted out leaving the passenger doors locked. He should be haniged upside down.

  • joboni96

    ‘for carrying eight or fewer passengers .. there were nine people in this vehicle’

    8 seat capacity for obese u.s. people
    will seat comfortably 9 petite pilipinos

    preparing for damage suit?

    condolence to the family and friends
    specially to the victim bride

    i suggest you file a damage suit
    to fund foundations named after the victims

  • droccu

    Too many “experts” here for comfort some bordering on unnecessary racial bias… Let’s all stop these useless speculations, pray for the souls of the victims and just wait for the results of the investigation.

    • $18209031

      Shzt up fool. Five people died unnecessarily after the actions of a idiot driver who refused to listen to calls for help. He was wasting time and thus people died. The driver had the controls of the wheel and the door locks and windows.

      He could have done more to save lives.

  • berong es

    blame the accident to Pnoy.
    1.kung may trabaho sa pinas,di na sila doon magna-nars.di sana sila nasunog.

    2. kung maraming limousines sa pinas,di na sila magre-rent doon dahil sanay ng sumakay ng limos.

  • WHATEVER

    Destiny…..

  • dikoy321

    Blame NO ONE else but “berong es” for his quick finger-pointing at the wrong direction !
    These people went to the USA during the time of GMA !
    hehe

  • http://www.yahoo.com/ Jose Paman

    Its the drivers fault. He is supposed to control the number of passengers allowed to ride.

    • bok

      Blame… blame… blame… wala ka talagang magawa.

  • Guest

    “Nag-siksikan sa limo, kala siguro parang jeep na pwedeng umupo sa sahig at sumabit sabit. Hayun tinamaan ng malas.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94