Driver Argued on Phone Before Deadly Limo Fire
Wife says he was distracted, playing loud music
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2013 4:35 PM CDT
The charred remains of the limousine where five passengers died.   (AP Photo/Oakland Tribune-Bay Area News Group, Jane Tyska)

(Newser) – New info from the wife of the limo driver whose car burst into flames in May, killing five passengers, casts more doubt on whether Orville Brown really did all he could to prevent the tragedy, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Rachel Hernandez-Brown says she was arguing with her estranged husband on the phone just before the incident. He turned up the music in the back of the car so the bachelorette party would not hear, she says. "The music was really loud. And I kept yelling, 'I can't hear you. Turn it down,'" she says. "I said, 'You're not paying attention. You know, like, get off the phone. Stop calling me.'"

After the accident, Brown blamed his delayed reaction to the women reporting "smoke" in the back to the blaring music. Hernandez-Brown says he called her back moments after getting out of the car, before he called the cops. "He was continuously calling me back," she says. Brown has previously said it took him five minutes to dial 911 because his hands were shaking, reports the Mercury News. Hernandez-Brown says he also later told her he thought they would get "super paid" as compensation for the fire. Authorities were expected to issue a report on what caused the fire soon, but now say they have to look into Hernandez-Brown's account.

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Showing 3 of 19 comments
Jul 22, 2013 12:14 AM CDT
I'm all for honesty and admitting when you're wrong but what kind of "wife" rats her husband out like that. That's not standing by your man! Somehow I don't believe what she's stating.
Jul 22, 2013 12:13 AM CDT
This only came out because the wife talked to the newspaper, just before the investigation was about to conclude. One would think that the investigators would have talked to her about this before, but there is no indication that they did. Seems like a pretty weak investigation.
Jul 21, 2013 11:54 PM CDT
I would place the blame squarely on the driver, aside from the fact that the car DID catch fire. He shouldn't have been calling his estranged wife every 15 seconds AND turning up the music so loud to keep the women from hearing his conversation, which in turn, was so loud he couldn't hear them screaming. I imagine they'll find there was a short in the speakers or the wires when it's all said and done. They better get prepared for a lot of lawsuits.