San Francisco Limo Fire: Did Orville Brown Leave Women To Die?

By Philip Ross on May 7, 2013 4:18 PM EDT

limo fire san francisco
The San Francisco limo fire Saturday night, May 4. (Photo: ABC News/Video Screenshot)

Contradictory accounts are emerging in the developing and tragic story of the limo that caught fire in San Francisco. One survivor of the San Francisco limo fire said today that she believes the limo driver, Orville Brown, could have done more to help the victims escape the burning vehicle.

The Daily Mail reports that 36-year-old Nelia Arellano, one of the four surviving women of the San Francisco limo fire who managed to escaped through a rectangular partition to the front seat, believes that Brown walked away from the limo after pulling over and did not help the nine women escape.

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"When he stop the car, he get out from the car, he just get out from the car," Arellano told AP.

"He doesn't want to listen," she continued. "There is already a fire. Stop the car, stop the car," she remembered saying to him before he pulled the limo over.

IScience Times reported earlier this week that bride-to-be, Neriza Fojas, and eight of her girlfriends, all of them nurses, were in the back of the white stretch limo crossing the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge when the back of the vehicle caught fire. The women were celebrating Fojas upcoming wedding in the Philippines and were headed into Foster City to meet up with her fiancé at a hotel party.

When the women first noticed smoke in the back of the limo, one of them knocked on the partition window to tell Brown about the smoke.

"They had the music up in the back, and I figured she was asking, 'Can I smoke?'" Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle in an interview. "I said, 'The owner doesn't allow smoking in the car, and we only have four minutes to the destination.'"

A few moments later, the women began to pound on the partition window again, this time accompanied by frantic screams as smoke engulfed the limo. Brown started to pull over, but by then it was too late.

While four women were able to escape through the partition window, five others, including the bride-to-be, perished. Their bodies were found clustered under the tiny dividing window

"Everything happened so fast," Brown told CNN. "In this situation, you always feel that you could do more."

Brown stands by his account of the incident, saying that he did help pull the four surviving women from the burning limo.

The 1999 Lincoln town car was owned and operated by rental company Limo Stop. "It was an aged piece of equipment and I don't believe it had the extra door," another limo owner told ABC News. "They would have had to climb over each other and exit through the rear doors."

While the exact cause of the fire that killed five women is not yet known, it's likely the fire was caused by electrical issues. Investigators continue to look for answers.

The four women who survived the limo fire in San Francisco were treated at a hospital for burns and smoke inhalation.

Read more from iScience Times:

Neriza Fojas, Bride, Killed In Limo Fire: Fire Believed To Have Started In Trunk; Police Investigating

38 Die In Mental Hospital: What Caused The Fire At Moscow Psychiatric Ward?

Ship On Fire In Antarctica: 97 Saved From Kai Xin; Antarctica At Risk For Environmental Disaster?

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