REDWOOD CITY (CBS/AP/BCN) — A mechanical problem ignited a limousine fire that killed five nurses trapped in the back, the California Highway Patrol said Monday as it released results of its investigation and more than a dozen 911 call recordings filled with screams from those inside.
The blaze broke out on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge on May 4 because of a catastrophic failure of the rear suspension system, CHP Capt. Mike Maskarich said. The air suspension failure allowed the spinning driveshaft to contact the floor pan, causing friction that ignited carpets and set the vehicle on fire, authorities said.
No criminal charges will be filed due to the accidental nature of the fire, prosecutors said.
“Some tragedies are crimes and some are not, and this one was not,” San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said at a joint news conference with the CHP. Added Maskarich: “The overall nature of this tragedy was not something that was foreseeable.”
Wagstaffe said his office looked into manslaughter, criminal negligence or other possible charges before determining that no charges would be filed against the driver or TownCar SF, the company that owned and operated the limo.