Nation roundup for April 13


Couple: Truck on fire before deadly bus crash

ORLAND, Calif. (AP) — A couple said a FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it careened across a median, sideswiped their car and slammed into a bus carrying high school students, adding a new twist to the investigation of a crash that killed 10 people.

Initial reports by police indicated the truck swerved to avoid a sedan that was traveling in the same direction in this town about 100 miles north of Sacramento, then went across the median. There was no mention of the truck being on fire.

But Joe and Bonnie Duran, the Seattle-area couple who were in the car, said, like the bus, they were northbound on Interstate 5 on Thursday afternoon. Bonnie Duran, who was driving, told KNBC-TV in Los Angeles that flames were coming from the lower rear of the truck cab.

“I just looked to the left, and there it was coming through right at me at an angle. I can tell I wasn’t going to outrun him, so I just kind of turned to the right and he hit me,” she said. “It was in flames as it came through the median. … It wasn’t like the whole thing was engulfed. It was coming up wrapping around him.”

The couple was not seriously injured. KNBC-TV reported that the Durans would be formally interviewed Saturday by the California Highway Patrol before flying home.

Officer Lacey Heitman, a spokeswoman for California Highway Patrol, said she could not confirm if the truck was on fire before the collision until all evidence was gathered.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said the agency is investigating the condition of the truck before the collision, including if it was on fire.

Space station outage might force spacewalk

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A computer outage at the International Space Station may require a spacewalk by astronauts and threatens to delay next week’s launch of a commercial supply ship for NASA.

NASA said Friday night that a backup computer on the outside of the orbiting lab is not responding to commands.

The main computer, called an MDM or multiplexer-demultiplexer, is working fine, and the six-man crew is in no danger, officials said. But these computers control some robotic functions that would be needed for the upcoming supply run by SpaceX, one of two U.S. companies contracted by NASA to keep the space station well stocked. A backup computer would need to be operating for redundancy of those robotic systems.

SpaceX is supposed to launch the unmanned Dragon capsule on Monday from Cape Canaveral. It contains nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies and science experiments.

The mission is already a month late because of extra prep time needed by the California company and unrelated damage to an Air Force radar-tracking device needed for rocket launches.

Late Friday, Mission Control was trying to determine whether the computer can be repaired or must be replaced. A replacement would have to be accomplished by spacewalking astronauts.

NASA is still aiming for a Monday launch by SpaceX.

But that could change, depending on the status of the bad computer.

Astronauts use the space station’s big robot arm to grab onto the Dragon capsule and attach it to the outpost.

The space station is currently home to two Americans, one Japanese and three Russians.

NASA is paying Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — or SpaceX — and the Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp. to make space station deliveries. Russia, Japan and Europe also conduct occasional supply runs.

 

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