SAN MATEO (CBS SF) – The man who was behind the wheel when a limousine burst into flames on the San Mateo-Hayward bridge Saturday told CNN the situation “was just a nightmare.”
Driver Orville “Rickey” Brown told CNN Monday that the car was running fine prior to the fire.
Brown said he at first misunderstood what one of the passengers in the back was saying when she complained about smelling smoke. Brown said that with the music up he initially thought the woman was asking if she could smoke.
“I said, ‘Well, we only have four more minutes and, you know, the boss doesn’t allow us to smoke,” he recalled.
Seconds later, he said the women knocked again, this time screaming, “Smoke, smoke!” and “Pull over!”
He said he pulled over at that point and women began climbing through the partition.
“There was a woman that got stuck and I helped her out, and then another got out,” he said. “I believe the first lady that came out opened the back door, but it could have been one of the guys that (pulled over to help).”
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31-year-old registered nurse Neriza Fojas and her group were on their way to the Crown Plaza Hotel in Foster City where her new husband was waiting for her.
Fojas and four of her friends were killed. One of them was identified by the Fresno Medical Center as Michelle Estrera.
“I just wish that there could have been something done, more,” Brown said.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.
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