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Five Members of Bridal Party Killed in Limo Fire

Five people were killed and four injured when a limousine operated by Limo Stop Inc., caught fire. The limo was carrying the bridal party to Foster City, where the bride’s fiancee was waiting. The bride, Neriza Fojas, a nurse, was one of the women killed. The survivors, Mary Grace Guardiano, 42, of Alameda, Nelia Arrellano, 36, of Oakland, Jasmine Desguia, 34, of San Jose, and Amalia Loyola, 48, of San Leandro were taken to Stanford Medical Center and Valley Medical Center in San Jose with moderate injuries. The driver, Orville Brown, 47, escaped unhurt. The limo’s permit had a maximum capacity of eight passengers.

The fire reportedly started near the back of the limo. The air springs in the rear of the limo ruptured, eventually causing the fire. This failure of the rear suspension system allowed the drive shaft to come into contact with the floor panel.

The California Highway Patrol and the district attorney’s investigators concluded that the limo fire was the result of catastrophic mechanical failure, so no criminal charges will be filed against the driver. Maintenance records show regular check ups and the suspension system that failed was replaced a couple of years before the tragic accident. The CHP investigation revealed that the driver likely could not have done anything to put out the limo fire or save the women’s lives.

Although no criminal charges will be filed in the matter, the California Public Utilities Commission will fine the limo owner $7,500 for carrying more passengers than permitted.

The incident is similar to an ongoing case the firm is prosecuting against De Soto Cab for a fire and crash that killed Dennis and Karen Marshall, visitors from Ohio. In that case, the driver continued for several miles before trying to stop and finding that the brakes no longer worked.

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