A Southern California teen said he knew he had to act quickly when he saw a tractor-trailer careening directly toward the tour bus full of students he was riding in.
Miles Hill, 18, escaped the fiery crash with second-degree burns on both his hands and along the left side of his body, among other injuries. Five students and five adults were killed in the crash on Interstate 5 near the small Northern California city of Orland on Thursday.
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When Hill saw the FedEx truck coming toward the bus, he covered his head with his fire-repellent Army jacket and braced for impact. As the bus became engulfed in flames, the teen kicked out a window and fled from the burning bus.
“So much adrenaline was coursing through my veins,” Hill said. “I was in so much shock that I did what I had to do. I kicked it and it came off and I ran.”
From his hospital bed at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, Hill said he is still haunted by what he heard and saw.
“Screams of people who were trapped inside burning alive,” Hill said. “They were screaming, ‘Help me, I don’t want to die.’”
The worst of the fire and most of the deaths happened near the front of the bus. Hill was sitting right behind the driver.
“He chose that position because he had read somewhere a long time ago that the safest position in the bus in a bus crash – he had researched it – was in the front of the bus,” said Hill’s father, Gaylord Hill.
Hill disputed other witness accounts claiming the dlivery truck was on fire before it collided with the bus.
“It was in perfect condition. It exploded upon impact with the bus," Hills said. "It was not on fire at all.
The teen was able to save himself and others after kicking out the window. But his father said the teen almost feels guilty about surviving because he wasn’t able to do more for those who died.
“I can’t even imagine him in the middle of the explosion and saved his life, and the others couldn’t,” the father said.