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Report: Limo Driver On Phone Before Fatal Fire On San Mateo Bridge

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Limousine Burning

The limousine caught fire midway across the San Mateo bridge Saturday night. (Cellphone image from video by Roxana and Carlos Guzman)

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SAN MATEO (CBS/AP) — A newspaper has reported that shortly before fire engulfed the back of a stretch limousine and killed five Northern California women in May, the driver had turned up the music in the vehicle so his passengers couldn’t hear him arguing with his estranged wife on the phone.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Sunday that its interview with Rachel “Raquel” Hernandez-Brown raises questions about whether the driver was too distracted to react quickly enough when one of the nine nurses in the limo began banging on the closed partition to warn him the back was filling with smoke.

Four nurses escaped through the partition and survived.

The San Mateo district attorney’s office said it would follow up on Hernandez-Brown’s claims. Investigators never contacted her.

Driver Orville Brown declined to comment to the paper.

An attempt by The Associated Press to contact his brother Lewis Brown, a lawyer who has spoken on the driver’s behalf was not immediately successful.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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