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

(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.

The charred remains of the limousine where five passengers died.
The charred remains of the limousine where five passengers died.   (AP Photo/Oakland Tribune-Bay Area News Group, Jane Tyska)
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