San Diego student who survived horrifying bus crash returns home

SAN DIEGO - A San Diego high school student who survived a deadly collision between a FedEx truck and a bus headed for a college tour in Northern California returned home early Saturday morning.

Harley Hoyt of El Cajon said he is still shaken by the crash and could not wait to get home.

"I didn't feel safe yet, like, I still felt unsecure," Hoyt said. "I wanted to be in San Diego."

Hoyt survived, but 10 others died when the charter bus was hit head-on by a FedEx truck on Interstate 5 near the Northern California city of Orland Thursday night.

On Saturday afternoon, Hoyt and his girlfriend walked into an El Cajon Verizon store to purchase a new cell phone after his was lost during the accident.

"Being home feels awesome,” Hoyt said. “It's a blessing, because people didn't make it.”

Harley’s father and mother flew up to Northern California Friday to meet their son and bring him back. Harley's father, Hector Hoyt, said he felt unbelievably blessed to have his son by his side.

"I'm telling you … there's a mission for this kid right here. He's an angel."

Hoyt said he had his headphones on and was looking down during the long bus ride to Humboldt State University when he heard other people on the bus screaming.  

“I flew forward and looked up, and like a split second later, we smashed right into the bus,” the Valhalla High School Senior told reporters Friday.

Hoyt was seated in the back of the bus near an emergency exit. He kicked the door open and then jumped to freedom. He helped other people escape the fast-moving flames.

"When I looked back at the bus, I was just very dumbfounded… I looked at it because it was just all on fire," he said.

Hoyt and several other survivors crossed the interstate to get away from the inferno.

"Everybody was like just laying on the grass, out of it.  People were crying, people were pulling their hair, people were screaming.  Everyone was just very traumatized by the whole thing," he said Friday.

Hoyt said he felt more than lucky to have survived the crash.

"Lucky is an understatement. Blessed is an understatement," he said. "I don't have a word to describe how I feel. I’m so thankful that I'm here. I'm grateful that I'm alive. I get to see my parents and my brother who are flying in. I get to live to see another day."

Hoyt’s mother, Lisa Hoyt, summed up the family’s emotions Friday after the reunion.  

"Just know that we have a special gift that was given to us, when others didn't receive the same."

As of Saturday, Hoyt is still recovering from the crash.

"Everything is just sore on me. All of my scratches, I'm pretty beat up.”

Harley plans to major in environmental engineering when he starts at Humboldt State in the fall. He is the first in his family to attend college.

The president of the university has since offered him a free trip to see the campus.
 

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