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Fatal bus crash: Coroner identifies 10th and final victim

Coroner’s officials have formally identified the final victim who died in a fiery Northern California crash between a FedEx truck and a tour bus full of students.

The April 10 head-on collision on Interstate 5 near Orland killed 10 people as more than 40 Southern California high school students were on their way to visit the campus of Humboldt State University.

Glenn County Sheriff-Coroner Larry Jones confirmed that Adrian Castro, a 19-year-old senior at El Monte High School, died in the crash, along with four other students, three adult chaperons and the two drivers.

The announcement puts to rest painstaking efforts to properly identify all the fatalities in the crash, which left several Southern California high schools in mourning.

Castro played cornerback on the El Monte High football team and someday hoped to be an athletic trainer. When his mother, Veronica Soriano, heard about the crash, she could not immediately get answers about her son's fate.

She got in her car and drove all night, only to be told officials were nearly certain her son was dead.

Identifying the bodies has been a slow process because many trapped in the fiery wreckage were burned beyond recognition.

Authorities had to obtain dental records, in some cases from multiple dentists, to positively identify nine of the victims. A 10th, who was transported to UC Davis Medical Center, chaperon Arthur Arzola, was identified by the Sacramento County coroner’s office.

Glenn County officials had trouble obtaining full dental records in Castro’s case, partly because one of the dentists had recently moved to a digital filing system but for some reason failed to copy his records.

Authorities had to turn instead to DNA testing, which was performed at a Los Angeles-area lab.

Toxicology reports, which were ordered immediately and for all the bodies, will take weeks to complete, Jones said. The results will help investigators determine the cause of death for each victim, particularly by determining how much carbon monoxide was in their lungs at the time.

Investigators say it could be months before they can determine what caused the crash.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting a "parallel" investigation, is not expected for at least two weeks.

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christine.maiduc@latimes.com
Twitter: @cmaiduc

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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