CHP: Deadly Limo Fire Caused by Mechanical Problems

By: AP Email
By: AP Email
MGN Online

MGN Online

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) - The California Highway Patrol on Monday said a limousine fire that killed five nurses trapped in the back was sparked by a mechanical problem.

CHP Captain Mike Maskarich says the blaze broke out on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge on May 4 because of a catastrophic failure of the rear suspension system.

Authorities say no charges will be filed. The Public Utilities Commission is fining the limo operator $1,500 for having more passengers than allowed.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The fire broke out while a nurse, Neriza Fojas, was celebrating her recent wedding with a group of friends.

Fojas and four others were trapped in the burning limo and died at the scene.

Four other friends inside the limo and the limo driver survived.

Authorities reviewed video and photos of the fire and interviewed survivors, including the limo driver, Orville Brown, who's said he helped survivors escape through a partition between the vehicle's front seats and the passenger area.

Brown, 46, of San Jose, said at first he misunderstood what one of the passengers in the back of the 1999 Lincoln Town Car was saying when she knocked on the partition window.

With the music turned up, Brown said he initially thought the woman was asking if she could smoke. Seconds later, he said, the women knocked again, this time screaming, "Smoke, smoke!" and "Pull over."

Brown said he helped the four survivors escape through the partition. One of women ran around to a rear passenger door but by then the vehicle was engulfed in flames.

One of the survivors, a sobbing Nelia Arellano, told KGO-TV a few days after the fire that Brown "didn't do anything" to help the women escape the car. In a May 7 interview, Arellano told NBC Bay Area that Brown was on the phone.

Brown's brother, Lewis Brown, an attorney based in Vallejo, denied the accusations to NBC Bay Area.

Authorities said they reviewed Brown's telephone records and that he was not on the phone during the accident.

The state Public Utilities Commission had authorized the vehicle to carry eight or fewer passengers, but it had nine on the night of the fire.

Aerial video shot after the incident showed about one-third of the back half of the limousine scorched by the fire. Its taillights and bumper were gone and it appeared to be resting on its rims, but the remainder of the vehicle didn't appear to be damaged.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
KOLO-TV 4850 Ampere Drive Reno, NV 89502
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 220248811