SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — One person was killed and three others were taken to the hospital after a bus carrying a choir from Alabama and four other vehicles collided on Highway 101 near the Sierra Parkway exit early Saturday morning.
The California Highway Patrol said the crash happened just before 12:45 a.m. and had shut down three northbound lanes of the busy freeway for more than 7 hours.
A tour bus carrying 19 people and four other cars were involved in the crash, the CHP said.
The students were part of a choir known as the “Aeolians,” traveling from Oakwood University in Alabama.
According to the CHP, the crash happened after a Ford SUV with a blown out tire tried to pull over near the center divide. A driver in a Camry swerved to avoid hitting the disabled SUV and was rear-ended by another driver in a Volkswagen. That crash pushed the SUV into traffic and it was hit by the tour bus. Then, a Lincoln Navigator crashed into the back of the bus, killing the driver.
A male likely between 40-50 years of age was killed, authorities said, with two people on the bus taken to the hospital with minor injuries, and another person from one of the cars transported with moderate to severe injuries.
“We have officers doing multiple things,” said CHP Sgt. Robert Powers. “We have officers measuring, looking at physical evidence on the scene, interviewing drivers, passengers.”
Nineteen passengers were treated at the scene.
CHP Officer Bert Diaz said the injuries were from the impact of the collision, not from the fire. All the students were able to get off the tour bus before the fire consumed it.
The name of the bus company is Peninsula Tour, according to authorities. The company’s tour bus ignited in flames after the crash and was burned to its frame. Two other cars were also damaged by the fire.
All lanes of the freeway were open by 8:43 a.m. Meanwhile, the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Oakwood University issued a statement thanking first responders, “and support personnel from the San Francisco area who are aiding our students and staff.”
According to the university, the students lost all their belongings in the crash. The school launched a website to raise money to help them.