8 dead, 42 hurt in Lucena road accident

LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines—(UPDATE) Eight bus passengers were killed and 42 others were injured in a road accident on the diversion road of the Maharlika Highway in the village of Domoit here shortly past midnight Monday.

Senior Police Officer 4 Renato Pelobello, Lucena police investigator, identified the victims as Romeo Buban, Melchor Candano, Emily Bayobo, her daughter Rizzy and granddaughter Rean, 3, Marife Pada, and two others—a male and a female—who still remain unidentified.

Seven of the fatalities were passengers of a Manila-bound A. Bragais Liner with body number 901 (EVM-934) coming from Bicol; Pada was a passenger of Lucena Lines with body number 8348 (DWB-795) traveling from Manila toward this city.

Among those in critical condition are: Cristy Cabilda Cabuya, 19, of Ligao, Albay; Rolly Buela, 23, still unconscious; and one unidentified male, around 12 to 15 years old, also still unconscious, at the Quezon Medical Center (QMC); and Aileen Plaza, 20, from Tabaco City, is confined at the Intensive Care Unit of the Mount Carmel Diocesan General Hospital.

Contrary to an earlier police report, Rosalina Tique, 35, was not one of those seriously injured.

Most of the wounded passengers have been discharged from QMC and only nine were still undergoing treatment.

Police said most of the victims were pinned to death by twisted metal and iron sheets.

Police said that at around 12:30 a.m., Lucena-bound Lucena Lines collided with Manila-bound A. Bragais Liner (EVM-934).

From the impact point just a few meters away after crossing Iyam bridge, both vehicles hurtled for about 70 meters before finally coming to a stop, leaving behind three dead bodies that were thrown out of the Bragais Liner bus, police said.

Due to the strong impact, both left sides of the buses were ripped out, with metal bracings and iron sheet sidings torn away.

Vehicle metal parts and bloodied personal belongings were seen left scattered on the concrete pavement.

Pellobello said the seven passengers of Bragais Liner all died on the spot.

It took more than one hour before the rescuers retrieved the body of the little girl and her mother Rizzy, both pinned under twisted metal inside the bus.

“I was jolted from my near sleep by the loud banging noise followed by cries of pains. And then I saw our driver struggling to control the steering wheel while the left side of the bus was left wide open. Some of the passengers in the left seats were gone. Those still in their seats were bloodied. It was a horrible sight,” Roger Lerida, 46, one of the passengers of Bragais Liner, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Lerida was traveling with his 16-year-old daughter Jayziel, who also sustained minor bruises. The father and daughter were seated at the front row on the right side the bus.
“We were both lucky to survive,” Lerida said.

He said the bus that had 59 passengers onboard left Tabaco City at around 5 p.m. Sunday and changed driver in Libmanan, Camarines Sur five hours later.

Rico Laguidao, relative of the killed Bayobos, said they were going to meet the father of the girl, a seaman who is scheduled to arrive in Manila on Tuesday.

“We were all seated in one of the rows at the left side a feet away from the driver’s seat. I was near the aisle that’s why I only sustained minor bruises,” he told reporters in between sobs.

The driver of Bragais Liner, Jose Danny Montealegre, said Candano, his alternate driver, who was sleeping on the next row behind him, was thrown out of the bus after the victim was hit by a piece of steel after the impact.

“I saw two more passengers also thrown out of my bus,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer shaking his head and still in shock.

He claimed that he tried to evade the oncoming bus which swerved into his lane. "But the other bus was traveling too fast," he said.

Montealegre is detained at the Lucena City jail.

Bragais Liner is owned by the family of Tabaco City Vice Mayor Reynaldo Bragais, who maintains a fleet of 19 passenger buses.

“I was traveling to Manila when I was informed of the accident so I immediately proceeded to the hospital to provide assistance to the victims,” the vice mayor told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview at the Funeraria Pagbilao here where the remains of the victims were brought.

Bragais said preparations were being made by company representatives for the transit of the dead bodies to their respective hometowns.

Pelobello identified the driver of Lucena Lines as one Victor Alcantara, who immediately escaped after the accident.

Four hours later, Alcantara surrendered to Lucena police station accompanied by company officials.

Alcantara denied that he escaped and insisted that he was just hiding behind the bush near the accident site fearful that he might be harmed by the victims.

He said when he came out of hiding he immediately went to the bus terminal and told the company officials what happened.

“The accident was not my fault but the other driver who was driving fast,” he insisted.

However, according to initial police investigation report, Lucena Lines suddenly swerved to the left lane which caused the collision.

SOURCE: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/topstories/topstories/view/20090824-221733/8-dead-42-hurt-in-Lucena-road-accident