Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Limo erupts in flames; bride-to-be, four others die

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Firefighters and highway patrol officers investigate Saturday's limousine fire.

JANE TYSKA / MCT Enlarge Image

Firefighters and highway patrol officers investigate Saturday's limousine fire.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A limousine taking nine women to a bachelorette party erupted in flames, killing five of the passengers, including the bride-to-be, authorities and the mother of one of the survivors said Sunday.

The limo caught fire at around 10 p.m. Saturday on one of the busiest bridges on San Francisco Bay, California Highway Patrol officer Art Montiel told The Associated Press.

Five of the women were trapped, but the four other women managed to get out after the vehicle came to a stop on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, the patrol said.

Rosita Guardiano told the San Francisco Chronicle the woman for whom the bachelorette party was being thrown was to be married next month. Guardiano said her daughter was one of the survivors.

Investigators haven't determined what sparked the fire, but the patrol officer said the white stretch limo became engulfed in flames after smoke started coming out of the rear of the vehicle.

A photo taken by a witness and broadcast on KTVU-TV showed flames shooting from the back of the 1999 Lincoln Town Car.

Aerial video shot after the incident showed about one-third of the back half of the limousine had been scorched by the fire. Its tail lights and bumper were gone and it appeared to be resting on its rims, but the remainder of the vehicle didn't appear to be damaged.

The driver of the limo -- 46-year-old Orville Brown of San Jose -- was the only person to escape unhurt.

It wasn't clear how he managed to escape without injury. Investigators were still seeking witnesses Sunday afternoon, the highway patrol said.

"Four people got out; as far as what was going on inside, I don't know," highway patrol officer Jeremy Lofstrom said Sunday.

All five women were pronounced dead at the scene. Autopsies were being conducted, San Mateo County supervising deputy coroner Michelle Rippy said.

The company that operated the limo was identified as Limo Stop, which offers service through limousines, vans and SUVs.

A telephone message left at the company seeking comment by The Associated Press wasn't immediately returned. Attempts to reach the driver were also unsuccessful.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 6, 2013 A11

History

Updated on Monday, May 6, 2013 at 8:42 AM CDT: adds photo

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