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Engaged pair, teen athlete among dead in bus crash

Monday - 4/14/2014, 8:02pm  ET

This undated photo provided by El Monte High School football coach Joel Sanchez shows El Monte senior Adrian Castro. Castro died in the fiery crash between a FedEx truck and a chartered bus taking Southern California high school students to Humboldt State University on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2014. Adrian's father, Raul Castro, said he had gotten a call from Adrian's mother, who had heard from the California Highway Patrol that their son had died. (AP Photo/El Monte High School)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Five high school students and three chaperones have been confirmed dead after a charter bus heading to Humboldt State University was struck by a FedEx tractor-trailer in Northern California. The bus and big rig drivers were also killed.

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Michael Myvett had spent years connecting to autistic children as a therapist, and now was playing chaperone to a different group of youth as he traveled from his Southern California home to Humboldt State, his alma mater.

He was also a proud groom-to-be, traveling with Mattison Haywood, the fiancee he proposed to in Paris at Christmas.

The couple would make it neither to the school nor their wedding, dying in a fiery highway crash instead.

"He was my grandson, the greatest grandson any grandparent could ever have," Myvett's grandmother Debra Loyd told The Associated Press through tears.

Myvett had worked at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Torrance for two years.

Operations manager Kyle Farris, one of Myvett's supervisors, said he and another therapist heard about the couple's death on Facebook on Friday morning and were very broken up by the news.

Farris described Myvett as "a child at heart" who loved comic books and video games, fantasized about working as a Disney cartoonist and bonded with his young clients by drawing cartoon characters for them.

"He wanted to help people succeed, and to be a liaison and representative for high school students who wanted to attend Humboldt was in sync with his personality, wanting to facilitate people's achievement of their dreams," Farris said.

Myvett proposed to Haywood outside the Louvre Museum in December. Facebook photos posted by the beaming couple show Haywood teetering on the platform pumps Myvett had asked her to wear while he extended a ring on bended knee.

"That was the love of his life," Farris said.

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The bus was driven by Talalelei Lealao-Taiao of Sacramento, according to charter operator Silverado Stages Inc.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles told the Sacramento Bee that Lealao-Taiao, 53, had no history of moving violations, though her license was briefly suspended in 2004 for reasons that were not immediately clear.

Other than an expression of grief, the company declined to comment on their driver, citing the ongoing investigation.

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The driver of a FedEx tractor-trailer was a 32-year-old Sacramento native who married his high school sweetheart and had two young daughters.

Tim Evans, of Elk Grove, was among the 10 people killed when the FedEx truck veered into oncoming traffic on Interstate 5 in Orland, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Debbie Otto, the stepmother of Evans' wife, Candice, told the newspaper that her son-in-law was a "kind, caring and unbelievably happy man" who had been driving professionally for several years.

Otto says the family is devastated and wondering what could have caused the fiery collision.

Evans grew up in Sacramento and played several sports at John F. Kennedy High School, Otto said. He helped coach his daughters' soccer and softball teams.

"Tim loved everybody, and everybody loved Tim," Otto said. "We're doing a lot of waiting, a lot of crying and a lot of consoling."

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Separated by five minutes at birth and a waiting list as they approached college, 17-year-old identical twins Marisol and Marisa Serrato of Norte Vista High School in Riverside, Calif., found opposite fates as they got on different buses headed for Humboldt.

Marisol, who'd been accepted to the school, arrived without incident Thursday.

There was no word on Marisa, her "baby" sister who was on the school's wait list, for nearly 24 hours before dental records confirmed she was among the dead.

Miguel Serrato said Marisol called their father Friday evening after going to see her sister's body.

"Marisol is devastated," the tearful brother said.

Aunt Dora Gil told The Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside that Marisol is burdened with questions about the loss of her sister, including if she could have saved her twin if they were on the same bus.

The girls were inseparable, Gil said. They slept on the same mattresses that lay on the floor of their carpeted room, with purple and salmon-colored walls. They ate from the same plate, went places together. They played guitar and sang at their church, and at least half a dozen college admissions letters are taped to the wall in their room. Now their guitars rest on the side of their white dresser.

"She screams, 'Where are you? I won't be able to live without you!'" Gil said between tears as she sat in the twins' room.

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