SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) - The driver of a limousine that burst into flames on a San Francisco Bay area bridge, killing five women, says he at first misunderstood what one of the passengers in the back was saying when she complained about smelling smoke.
Orville Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle that with the music up he initially thought the woman was asking if she could smoke. Seconds later, he said the women knocked again, this time screaming, "Smoke, smoke!" and "Pull over."
The fire broke out around 10 p.m. Saturday as the Lincoln Town Car crossed the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, which connects San Mateo and Alameda counties, about 20 miles southeast of San Francisco.
The driver and four women got out, but five others were trapped, including the bride whose marriage they were celebrating.
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A coroner investigating the deaths says the victims’ badly-burned bodies were found near the partition that separates the driver from the passengers.
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault says that suggests the women tried to use the window opening to escape the fast-moving fire that began in the back of the limo.
Rosita Guardiano told the San Francisco Chronicle that her daughter -- 42-year-old Mary Grace Guardiano of Alameda -- is in intensive care, where she's being treated for smoke inhalation.
The name of the bride -- or of the other four women killed -- has not been released by officials.
The patrol said that smoke started coming out of the rear of the limo, and the driver pulled over as the vehicle quickly became engulfed in flames. Officers were trying to determine the cause of the blaze, which wasn't the result of an crash.
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