A FedEx tractor-trailer truck was already in flames when it crossed a median and slammed into a bus carrying students in Northern California, CNN affiliate KOVR reported, citing two witnesses.
The truck clipped a car occupied by Joe and Bonnie Duran before it slammed into the bus Thursday evening, killing 10 people -- five high school students, three chaperones and the drivers of both vehicles. More than 30 people, mostly teenagers, were taken to local hospitals.
Bonnie Duran told the affiliate the truck was on fire before it hit the bus. She said she made a quick decision to swerve to avoid a direct hit from the truck, sending their rental car into a ditch.
"Somehow we survived," she said.
Her husband, Joe Duran, said it was like a scene from a movie.
"I looked over and saw the FedEx truck coming straight for me," he told the affiliate. "It was like a 3-D movie. Imagine a Mack truck coming out of a movie."
The Durans were hospitalized and released.
Students traveling from the L.A. area
The students were traveling from the Los Angeles area to take part in a program at Humboldt State, which allows prospective attendees to visit the campus.
Their journey ended in a fiery wreck 90 miles north of Sacramento when the truck hit one of three buses taking the teens to the campus in Arcarta.
Investigators are looking into the cause of the crash in Orland on Interstate 5, which cuts through the heart of California's farming country.
The dozens of teens represented 31 Southern California high schools. They were heading to "Spring Preview Plus," which invites low-income and first-generation prospective students to the university.
As part of the program, students stay in residence halls, attend events and visit with staff and students from a program that helps historically underrepresented students, the university said.
The two other buses in the caravan made it to the university. Those students were placed in dorms, and the university is offering them counseling.