The bride killed in the limo fire on San Mateo Bridge was one of five women, all in their 30s and 40s, who died on top of each other in a desperate attempt to get through “the 3-by-1 1/2-foot window” that led into the driver’s compartment because the rear doors of the limo did not open, reported the San Francisco Chronicle on May 5, 2013.
“’This is one of the most horrific things I’ve seen in 21 years with this office,’ San Mateo County’s medical examiner, Robert Foucrault, said Sunday. ‘Looking at it, they were on top of each other and doing what they could to get out’.”
On Saturday night, 31-year-old Neriza Foja, who was a registered nurse at the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, had been celebrating her bridal shower with eight of her nurse friends.
According to her sister, Neriza Foja had been married recently in the United States and she and her husband were planning to travel to her native Philippines next month to have another wedding ceremony with her family on June 19.
“After partying Saturday evening in the East Bay, Fojas and her friends were headed to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City for her bridal shower. Her husband was at the hotel, waiting for his bride.”
Around 10 p.m., as the 1999 Lincoln Town Car limo that was carrying Neriza Foja and her nine friends was heading west over San Mateo Bridge and was a couple hundred yards from the western end of the bridge, flames erupted in the back of the stretch limousine.
The limo’s driver, 46-year-old Orville Brown of San Jose, pulled over to the side and he and four of the women were able to get out of the burning limo.
However, Neriza Foja and four of the other women remained trapped.
“For unknown reasons, they couldn’t get out the rear doors, so they apparently tried to squeeze through a small window into the driver’s compartment. Within seconds, the back end was engulfed and it was too late.”
Other drivers who were on San Mateo Bridge stopped and tried to help but all they could do is help the survivors and watch the limo burst into flames.
Orville Brown, the limo’s driver, was unhurt. The four other women who were able to escape the inferno were taken to area hospitals for burns and smoke inhalation.
Limo Stop Inc., the company that owned the limo, has been in business for about seven years and has a valid and up-to-date license. The company’s owner, Kultar Singh, said on Sunday that he was “very, very saddened” by the accident.
Since it is still unclear whether the limo fire started on the outside or the inside of the limo and the California Highway Patrol is conducting an investigation, anyone who saw what happened is asked to call the CHP.
Lewis Brown Jr., the brother of the limo’s driver, said that “He told me, ‘Man, it was so fast. He said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
Robert Foucrault, San Mateo County’s medical examiner, also said on Sunday that bride Neriza Foja and her four friends died “either trying to escape or huddled together for protection.”