Engaged couple among victims of California bus crash
ORLAND, Calif. — A recently engaged man who worked with autistic children. His fiancée, who was chaperoning the trip. An admissions counselor dedicated to helping low-income students get into college. A high school football player taking a college tour. And a 17-year-old girl looking forward to an adventure with her twin.
They are among the confirmed dead or those not yet officially identified after a bus carrying dozens of California high school seniors was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer about 100 miles north of Sacramento Thursday night.
The FedEx truck was already in flames when it crossed a median and slammed into the bus, CNN affiliate KOVR quoted witnesses as saying. It clipped a car before it slammed into the bus, killing 10 people — five high school students, three chaperones and the drivers of both vehicles. More than 30 people, mostly teenagers, were taken to local hospitals. The couple in the first car it struck survived.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the accident.
The students were traveling from the Los Angeles area for a program at Humboldt State, which allows prospective attendees to visit the campus. The teens, representing 31 Southern California high schools, were heading to “Spring Preview Plus,” which offers low-income and first-generation prospective students a glimpse of college life. The two other buses in the caravan made it to the university, where students were staying in dorms and receiving counseling
In a statement Saturday, John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, said 16 students from 11 of its schools were on the bus.
“We do not know yet if the five students who perished were LAUSD students but it doesn’t matter,” he said. “The lives of five college-bound students from underrepresented populations were tragically cut short. All of these youth and their families are in our prayers.”
On Saturday, some of those who died or remained unaccounted for were remembered.
Michael Myvett, chaperone
Michael Myvett, 29, had his fiancée wear blue heels when he proposed outside the Louvre in Paris late last year.
He loved the shoes and wanted them preserved forever in images from their big day.
“She had no idea that I was going to ask her,” he posted on Facebook at the time. “She was mad at me cause I wanted her to wear those shoes and her feet were hurting. I remember her saying, ‘omg are you serious’?”
Mattison Haywood, teetered in the heels as Myvett went down on bended knee. He slipped a diamond on her finger.
The couple never made it to their wedding day.
“He was a father figure to both of his brothers,” said his cousin, Trinice Sampson. The family was notified of the deaths of both Myvett and Haywood, Sampson said.
“He was one of the first people to graduate college in the family,” Sampson said of his cousin. “He is so responsible.”
Myvett wanted to be a psychologist and hoped to make an impact on the lives of others, according to his cousin.
His alma mater was Humboldt State, where he was taking prospective students. He also worked with children at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in west Los Angeles.
He turned 29 last month.
Mattison Haywood, chaperone
Haywood was riding with her fiancé on the bus taking students for a college tour.
Both were serving as chaperones on the trip to Humboldt State, from which her fiancé graduated.
Haywood and Michael Myvett were recently engaged in Paris.
Arthur Arzola, Humboldt State University admissions counselor
At Humboldt State, where Arthur Arzola, 26, worked as an admissions representative in the Los Angeles area for the last year, colleagues remembered “his passionate commitment to helping low-income and first-generation students get into college,” according to a statement on the university’s Facebook page.
“He dedicated his career to that work,” said the statement.
It continued, “The campus community extends its deepest condolences to Arthur’s family and friends. Words cannot express our sadness, and we are here to support them in any way possible.”
On Facebook, Dante Rios, who described himself as one of Arzola’s best friends and a groomsman in his wedding, posted photos of a smiling Arzola on his wedding day and other occasions.
“This smile is making Heaven a whole lot brighter today,” Rios wrote. “Our angel, Art Arzola, my bro, the most humble and thoughtful person that I have ever known.. There will never be another person like you.. My heart hurts so much to know that I can’t… ever hear you laugh, give you a hug, see you dance to Timbaland..”
He added, “But those memories and all of the things we’ve done together over the last 8 years that I’ve known you, will be the ones that bring a smile almost as big as yours to my face, man.. I know we will reunite someday, somewhere..”
Arzola’s wife Krystle identified his body, according to the Sacramento County coroner’s office.
Adrian Castro, El Monte High School student
Adrian Castro, 19, is shown in his football uniform with the No. 1 on the Facebook page of neighboring Arroyo High School in the San Gabriel Valley.
“Prayers go out to the families affected by this horrible accident,” the high school posted. “Sadly we learned today that a young El Monte High school student, Adrian Castro, who many described as having a bright future, passed away during this tragedy.”
A vigil for Castro is planned for Monday at 7 p.m. at El Monte High School. His death has not been independently confirmed.
Marisa Serrato, Riverside high school student
Marisa Serrato, 17, set off on the college adventure Thursday with her identical twin sister, Marisol, according to CNN affiliate KOVR. But they were traveling on separate buses.
Marisol made it Humboldt State University, but the Serrato family had not heard from Marisa, who was aboard the bus involved in the fiery crash, according to KVOR. On Friday, a sheriff’s deputy asked for Marisa’s dental records. Miguel Serrato, her 23-year-old brother, told KVOR that his family was “getting a little bit scared.” His mother booked a flight to the Sacramento area.
Ismael Jimenez and Denise Gomez, seniors at Animo Inglewood Charter High School
Ismael Jimenez, 18, and Denise Gomez were seniors at Animo Inglewood who were on the bus that crashed and are still unaccounted for, said Gabriel Sanchez, a school district spokesman said.
“To my knowledge, they had not committed to Humboldt State yet,” Sanchez said. “We still do not have an official confirmation of their death. The two students’ families have traveled to the location of the crash.”
A third student from the district was on the bus that crashed, Sanchez said. She survived and was home with her family.
Humboldt State set up a special fund known as the “HSU Spring Preview Bus Accident Support” for the victims and their families. On Sunday, univeristy alumni and parents in the Los Angeles area will gather outside Los Angeles City Hall from 2 to 5 p.m. to remember the victims.