A California newlywed was enjoying a night out with friends Saturday when the limo they were driving in caught fire, killing the bride and four other women. The driver escaped uninjured, and four other women got out and were treated for burns and smoke inhalation.
Neriza Fojas, a 31-year-old registered nurse at the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, had gathered with eight of her friends and colleagues to celebrate her bridal shower. Fojas had been married recently in the United States, and she and her husband were planning to travel to their native Philippines to hold a ceremony there next month.
The limo was traveling west on the San Mateo Bridge en route to the shower at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Saturday night when the back of the 1999 Lincoln Town Car erupted in flames. The driver pulled over and helped four of the passengers to safety but he couldn’t reach the rest of the group.
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"We got out by the grace of God.
I just wish that I could have done more," the driver, Orville Brown, 46, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's something you never imagine will happen."
When they couldn't get out of the car's rear doors, the remaining five women tried to squeeze through the small window that separates the driver's compartment from the passenger section, but the car was engulfed in flames within seconds. Rescue crews who arrived on the scene found five badly burned bodies huddled together near that window to the driver's compartment, according to the Chronicle.
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"This is one of the most horrific things I've seen in 21 years with this office," San Mateo County's medical examiner, Robert Foucrault, told the Chronicle. "Looking at it, they were on top of each other and doing what they could to get out."
The California Highway Patrol said it was investigating the cause of the fire.
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