More than half of the members attending a wedding shower died when the limo they were riding in caught fire late Saturday (May 4). The bride, and four others were killed, while the remaining four sustained injuries.
The women were crossing over the San Mateo Bridge just after 10 p.m. when the vehicle caught fire. It is still unclear what caused the 1999 Lincoln Town Car to go up in flames. The body of the bride, 31-year-old Neriza Fojas, and her four friends were clustered in the 3-by-1/2 foot partition showing that they were desperately trying to escape the fast-moving blaze, which started at that back of the vehicle.
The victims' bodies were charred beyond recognition, and will be positively identified via dental records.
San Mateo County Medical Examiner Robbert Foucrault noted the tragedy as one of the "most horrific things" he'd seen in 21 years on the job. "Looking at it, they were on top of each other and doing what they could to get out," he added.
Three survivors escaped with the help of a Good Samaritans, a fourth squeeze through a partition. The victims were transported to local hospitals to receive treatment for burns and smoke inhalation. Two of the women are listed in critical condition.
The driver, 46-year-old Orville Brown, was uninjured. One of the passengers alerted Brown to the smoke coming from the back of the car, but he misunderstood thinking that the woman was interested in smoking. Once pulled over he made an escape but was unable to save the others.
Limo Stop Inc., the company which operated the vehicle, said it had no idea what could have caused the tragedy and are working with authorities. "We are very shocked," said Limo Stop dispatcher Pam Kuar. "We are cooperating with the police."
Frojas worked as a nurse in a Fresno hospital. She recently married and was planning to travel to the Philippines with her groom for another ceremony. Her husband was awaiting her arrival at the wedding shower.
Photos: AP/NBC Bay Area/ABC Local