As details unfold on Saturday's tragic limo fire on the San Mateo Bridge, the California Highway Patrol said today that the nine female passengers were over the vehicle's passenger limit. Over by one, to be exact. While the investigation remains ongoing, the CHP hasn't said whether or not one extra passenger could have made it difficult for the passengers to escape safely.
The nine women were headed westbound to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City when the fire started in the trunk of the limo around 10 p.m. Saturday night. The group was on their way to celebrate with one of the victims: 31-year-old Neriza Fojas, who was recently married, but was scheduled to fly home to the Philippines in June for a second ceremony with her family. Fojas was a registered nurse at a hospital in Fresno.
CHP identified the surviving passengers as Mary Grace Guardiano, 42, of Alameda; Nelia Rafael Arellano, 36, of Oakland; Amalia P. Loyola, 48, of San Leandro; and Jasmine Desguia, 34, of San Jose. All were taken to a nearby hospital to be treated. At least two of them were still in critical condition as of Monday morning. A total of 5 people died.
The limo service, Limo Stop Inc., is licensed and permitted to operate seven vehicles in California, and has never had any infractions. According to the state Public Utilities Commission, all seven vehicles have an eight-person seating capacity. The driver, Orville Brown of San Jose had one ding on his record for an accident in 2011, and he sounds like he was very shaken by the whole thing.