ORLAND, Calif. - Authorities say nine people were killed in a three-vehicle crash that shut down north- and south-bound traffic on Interstate 5 Thursday evening.
California Highway Patrol said a FedEx semi-truck crossed the freeway grass median and slammed into a charter bus carrying students at 5:41 p.m.
Investigators said the truck driver might have been trying to avoid a Nissan Altima that was also involved in the crash.
The truck and bus drivers, as well as seven passengers on the bus were killed in the crash.
According to KRCR-TV, the bus was carrying 46 passengers, most of whom were high school students from Southern California who were headed to Humboldt State University for the school's spring preview.
HSU President Rollin Richmond said in a statement:
"Humboldt State University is deeply saddened by a tragic accident that occurred earlier this evening involving a charter bus filled with prospective students. They were on their way to visit campus for the April 11 Spring Preview event.
"Our hearts go out to those who have been affected, and we are here to support them, and their families, in any way possible."
The National Transportation Safety Board said late Thursday night a Go-Team is being sent to investigate the crash and is expected to arrive in the morning.
FedEX said in a statement, "Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the tragic accident on I-5 in California. We are cooperating fully with authorities as they investigate."
Both lanes of I-5 were closed. Southbound I-5 traffic was diverted off the interstate at County Road 7. Northbound traffic was diverted off at Highway 32. The area is expected to be cleared by 7 a.m. Friday, CHP said.
The collision was approximately 100 miles north of Sacramento.