SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It was a fiery accident that claimed 10 lives when a FedEx truck crashed into a tour bus of high school students on their way to a college tour.
For the first time since losing her husband, the wife of the FedEx driver is speaking out.
She buried her husband without knowing what caused that fatal accident. Seven months later, she’s still waiting on the answer.
“I kissed him goodbye, we always kiss goodbye, said I love you,” said Candice Evans.
For months, Evans refused to watch the video of the crash that took her husband’s life. Instead she chose to focus on the last 16 years with him.
“He was my best friend,” she said. “He was my rock.”
Candice and Tim Evans were high-school sweethearts. They had two daughters and dreams.
“He always wanted to rent an RV and like travel across the country,” she said. “He and I had these dreams for our life together, and now I have to find different dreams.”
April 10, 2014 began like any other day for the couple.
“He actually had a full night’s sleep,” she said.
[display-posts tag=”orland-bus-crash” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”8″]
Candice says her husband slept at least nine hours and went to the gym before heading to his job as a FedEx driver in Sacramento.
“He had told me if everything goes as planned I should be home by 5:30,” she said.
But at 5:30 p.m., he was still stuck nearly two hours away in Orland. Minutes later, his truck would cross the median on Interstate 5 and crash into a tour bus of high-school students on their way to check out a college.
“He wasn’t answering his phone, I mean thinking about that just makes me sick,” she said.
Candice says the first thing FedEx told her about what happened was, “There was a lot of fire and you won’t be able to see his body.”
She would later learn the driver of the tour bus and eight passengers also died in the crash.
“I don’t even want to call it an accident because I don’t believe it is,” she said.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators say it will be months before they know what went wrong. They do know Tim drove more than 220 miles from Sacramento to Weed. At 3:30 p.m., he picked up two different trailers and headed back to Sacramento.
“He had a clean driving record,” Candice said. “He took his job extremely serious; he had a lot of integrity when it came to the trucks and the safety checks.”
While Candice doesn’t know for sure what happened, she believes he didn’t fall asleep at the wheel. And she says phone records prove he wasn’t texting or on a call.
Candice speculates that something must have happened with the truck.
“I think there’s a possibility that the brakes were not working correctly,” she said. “There may have been something mechanically wrong with the tractor trailer he was operating.”
FedEx declined an interview with CBS13, so we couldn’t ask about Candice’s claims that Tim’s cowokers told her—her husband refused to take four trailers before deciding on the ones involved in the crash.
“When was the last time this truck was maintenanced,” she said. “My husband deadlined four trucks before deciding to come back to Sacramento from Weed, California.”
Candice also questions if something on the truck caught fire that may have caused Tim to pass out. An autopsy revealed he died from breathing in fumes, and didn’t suffer a medical episode like a heart attack or stroke.
Although investigators say evidence shows the flames came after the crash, a couple inside the car that Tim hit first says the FedEx truck was already on fire before the impact.
“I believe that he probably went into a coma or passed out due to fumes and that’s why there’s no brakes no brake marks,” Candice said.
A mother of one of the victims filed a lawsuit claiming FedEx trucks “have a history of their trucks catching on fire, either due to mechanical problems, driver error, or due to improper loading of cargo.”
No specific case was mentioned in the lawsuit.
CBS13 found two incidents where FedEx trucks caught on fire.
A few months before Tim died, a FedEx truck caught on fire in Rocklin. Investigators concluded that fire started in the brake area and spread throughout the back of the truck.
And in Ashland, Oregon, a FedEx driver told a TV station in August that he managed to escape a fire that engulfed his truck. Oregon state police say they don’t know what caused the fire, but that it wasn’t involved in a crash.
“I hear a rattling sound in the motor, clack, clack, clack, I know it’s coming from the bottom of the engine, and the flames were hitting my face and the fumes were just unbearable,” said the FedEx driver.
We asked Candice if she thinks the drivers who work for FedEx are safe.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve heard some things that worry me; I don’t know if all the tractors are in the best condition and have all the maintenance that they need.”
Tim died with his wedding ring around his neck. Burn marks still remain on the chain.
Candice says telling their daughters they had lost their dad is one of her worst memories.
“We chose this wall to kind of memorialize him,” she said.
She focuses on keeping her daughters from forgetting their father.
Tim was 32. He truly lived life to the fullest, Candice says, as a son, husband, father and friend.
“I feel that he taught me how to be passionate about the things in my life,” she said.
It is that lesson Tim taught his wife when he passed away that she says helps her move forward and keep her strong.
“We just have to remember him and love him and you know he’s an angel watching over us now,” she said.
The investigation is expected to wrap up next year.