The Glenn County coroner has completed autopsies on the victims of the fiery crash of a FedEx truck and charter bus and will begin notifying families Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
Chief Deputy Coroner Richard Warren said most families will learn Tuesday that their relatives’ bodies were positively identified as victims of last week’s crash. Ten people were killed, including five Southern California high school students.
One of the victims died at UC Davis Medical Center last week and was identified as Arthur Arzola, 29, a chaperon for the trip. The other nine died in Glenn County.
Authorities have had to rely on dental records and DNA samples to identify most of the bodies, which were burned beyond recognition.
Families with up-to-date dental records for their relatives will learn of positive identifications before those in which DNA had to be used because the process takes longer, Warren said.
Causes of death will not be released for up to six weeks, pending the results of toxicology tests.
Up to now, many of the victims have been named by their families, who have been organizing memorials and vigils.
Among the victims identified this way was Adrian Castro, 19, an El Monte High School student. Calvin Aceves, who survived the crash, told a crowd Monday night at El Monte High School that he sat in front of Castro on the bus and described the teen as “nice,” according to video posted by KTLA.
Castro, the eldest of three boys, let Aceves lean his seat back and plugged in speakers to his phone so those around him could listen to music.
“He passed away trying to help others,” Aceves said, holding back tears.
Other witnesses have talked about what happened immediately after the Thursday’s crash. A survivor told Green Dot Public Schools chief executive Marco Petruzzi how one of his students helped save others.
Ismael Jimenez, a student at Animo Inglewood Charter High School, “busted open a window at the front of the bus as it was filling with smoke and people were getting burned,” Petruzzi said in a statement. “He started lifting kids out in an effort to save them.”
Petruzzi said one of the crash survivors recounted Jimenez’s heroics during the chaos and said he “was indeed a hero.”
Officials were still trying to determine what caused the crash. The California Highway Patrol said it was seeking witnesses, as well as photos and videos.