Five Filipinos Die Inside Bridal Limo Fire

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – A bridal limousine turned into a rolling coffin when it caught fire killing five Filipinos, mostly nurses, including a bride, at San
Mateo-Hayward Bridge in Redwood City, California Saturday (May 4) night, according to friends of the victims.

Sgt. Diana McDermott, spokesperson of the Golden Gate Division of the California Highway Patrol, however, in a phone interview with this reporter, did not identify the names of the fatalities, hinting their names could be released during a press conference Monday morning at the CHP office in Redwood City.

Only one was identified by Officer Art Montiel in the “Report of Collision – News Release” received by this reporter. She was Jasmin Desguia, 34, of San Jose, California, who suffered smoke inhalations and burns.

But CHP later released the names of the others who survived, namely, Mary G. Guardiano, 42, of Alameda; Nelia Arellano, 36, of Oakland; and Amalia Loyola, 48, of San Leandro, all of California. Both Desguia and Loyola were listed in critical condition at the Valley Medical Center.

It was reported that the lone fatality so far was identified as Neriza Fojas, 31, a registered nurse, and bride, who was one of the five fatalities. She died inside a stretch 1999 white Lincoln Towncar Limousine, traveling at about 10:05 p.m. on SR (State Route) 92 westbound, east of Pier 1 in the “#3” lane when for unknown reasons, the vehicle caught fire.

The report said there were nine female passengers believed to be in their 30s and a male driver in the Lincoln.

The driver identified in various report as Orville Brown, 46, was not injured. Two of the injured passengers were transported to Standford Medical Center, while two others were transported to Valley Medical Center, all to be treated for smoke inhalation and burns.

According to Montiel’s report, the “remaining five passengers were pronounced deceased at the scene by Fire personnel.”

VICTIMS ALL FILIPINOS

The incident is being investigated and the San Mateo County Coroner’s office will release victim information once the next of kin has been notified.
Witnesses to the incident may contact Officer J. Watson at (650) 369.6261.

Marilyn King of Philippine Today told this reporter that the bride-tobe was a friend of a niece of Philippine Today’s Thelma Cruz. Ms. King said all the nine passengers of the limousine were “all Filipinos and most of them were nurses.”

She said they were going to a bachelorette party at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City and the bride-to-be was one of the fatalities. She was about to get married next month in the Philippines.

Orville Brown told NBC Bay Area he thought the women were trying to get his attention to ask him to pull over so that they could smoke. “She said. ‘No smoke – smoke smoke … pull over pull over.’ I saw the smoke, pulled over, by the time I was getting out the car there was a lady coming over the patrician.”

Brown said he helped three other women come thru the same patrician. “We were all in shock. Scared. Crying. Frustrated. I just reach out to the families and wish we could have done more.”

He said the fire might have been caused by electrical problem.It was reported that Ms. Fojas was recently married in the United States, but
was planning a wedding in the Philippines on June 19. Fojas was registered nurse at Fresno Community Regional Medical Center.

Some witnesses stopped and helped some of the women get out.

San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault was quoted as saying that the women were overcome by smoke. He said three got out the side back door on the driver’s side and one made it out the passenger window successfully to the driver’s compartment.

The four who died were found near the front of the passenger compartment trying to get to the driver’s area thru the privacy divider.

The Lincoln Town Car was not involved in an accident before it caught fire.

In a statement, Limostop Inc., owner of the limousine that caught fire, said, they  [w]ill do everything possible to investigate and assist authorities in
determining the cause of this fire in order to help bring forth answers and provide closure to the victims and their families.”
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Photo captions:

Photo of burning Lincoln Town Car Limousine (FAXX/jGLi photograb from NBC Bay Area)

Photo of Neriza Fojas (Facebook photo)

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