At about 11:45 a.m. on November 1, a silver Mitsubishi Lancer with plate no. PPW-841 lost control, occupied the opposite lane of the road, and bumped into a 10-wheeler truck with plate no. EVS-721 parked on the shoulder of the road along Quirino Highway in Tagkawayan, Quezon, according to Tagkawayan Municipal Police spot report.
The next day at around 2:45 p.m., a bus crashed along Adaya National Highway in Del Gallego, Brgy. Comadaycaday, Camarines Sur, carrying 42 paying passengers, including children, and two crew members. The police recorded 15 casualties, including the bus conductor who sustained minor injuries, and were brought to Maria L. Eleazar Memorial Hospital in Tagkawayan, Quezon for immediate medical treatment.
November 4 marked the final streak of motor accidents along these neighboring towns. According to the report from Ragay Municipal Police Station, it was around 11:30 p.m. when an ordinary E. Belleza bus with plate number EVN-768, driven by Nestor Gayo Galladosa, has encountered mechanical failure resulting to loss of control while traversing the descending road along the Rolando Andaya Highway in Poblacion Iraya, Ragay, Camarines Sur, thus hitting the edifice of Funeraria Bugtong. The bus was said to have come from Pilar, Sorsogon going to Manila.
What went wrong—were they only running out of luck or due diligence?
SecurityMatters got an interview with PO1 Ronaldo Dionido, police investigator at Tagkawayan Municipal Police Station. He said of the first accident, “Mitsubishi Lancer bearing plate no. PPW-841 ay galing ng Manila patungo sa direksyon ng Bicol tinatahak nya yung sementadong diretsong palusong na kalsada…posible na nawalan sya ng control na bumagga dun sa truck na nakaparada sa gilid ng kalsada. (The Mitsubishi Lancer from Manila going to Bicol possibly went out of control as it reached the concrete, straight, and downward portion of the road, thereby hitting the truck parked on the side.)”
He further stated that, “Yung driver na si Danilo Arivalo at kasama nyang si Marissa Arciaga Llandelar yung buntis ay binawian ng buhay ng dalhin sa Mother Seton General Hospital, Naga City… sa ngayon itong si Jochelle Unay at saka si Janelle Unay ay nasa kritikal na kalagayan… samantalang itong si Jenny Rose Gregorio, Michelle Uy na occupant din nung naturang sasakyan ay nagtamo rin ng pinsala.(Danilo Arivalo, the driver of the car, and Marissa Arciaga Llandelar, the pregnant passenger, died after being rushed to Mother Seton General Hospital in Naga City. For now, Jochelle Unay and Janelle Unay are in critical condition. Meanwhile, two other occupants, Jenny Rose Gregorio and Michelle Uy, were left with injuries.)”
In the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) report, Arjay Lopez, live-in partner of Llandelar, was also injured.
When asked if the car was speeding, Dionido concluded, “Sa aking teorya mabilis yung takbo nun… maganda yung daan. (The car might be running at a high speed because the road posed no risks at all.)”
People residing near the crash site were said to have heard the strong impact of the car as it hit the truck.
Elena Ebuenga, a resident nearby, told SecurityMatters that they went out to check out the loud noise. “Narinig naming may lumagabog na malakas, tapos sinilip namin… gumaganyan ganyan pa yung truck, yun pala yung bangga nya. (We saw the truck swaying after being hit by the car.)” She also shared that, “Ang sabi nung mga nandun sa waiting shed mula daw doon yung takbo ng sasakyan napakabilis tapos mayroon daw ditong dumaan na tricycle na parang iniwasan nya. (According to eyewitnesses on the crash site, they saw the car running at high speed when it avoided a tricycle on the road and hit the truck instead)
Marites Aquerido, one of the residents who helped the victims of the car crash, also narrated the experience, “Yung nanay ng bata sumisigaw humihingi ng tulong, ang ginawa ko kinuha ko yung bata dumudugo yung ulo… tinakbo ko na sa ospital. (The mother of a child was screaming, asking for help. What I did was to take her child whose head is bleeding, and rushed him to the hospital.)”
The second accident, based on the spot report prepared by Police Senior Inspector Wilson Tolosa Naz of the Del Gallego Municipal Police Station, involved an ordinary or non-airconditioned Raymond Bus with plate number DVN-469, driven by Jose Fernando Don Jaugan. The bus was going to Cubao, Quezon City from San Jose, Camarines Sur.
According to an NDRRMC report, “The driver heard a loud noise from the bottom portion of the bus and subsequently lost control, causing the bus to run straight, cross the opposite lane, hit a mahogany tree and then fell off a shallow ravine about 1.5 meters deep.”
Initial investigation conducted by SPO4 Augusto Adulta, Jr., SPO1 Pedro Adulta, and PO2 Eduardo Lualhati likewise revealed that, “Upon reaching a downward and curved portion of the road at the vicinity of Brgy. Comadaycaday, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur and when the driver shifted to a higher gear, there was a loud noise that came from the bottom of the bus then the driver lost his control in the steering wheel.”
This was confirmed by a passenger, Daisy Sanchez, who went through the accident hardly with any injury. In an interview with SecurityMatters several minutes after the crash, she recalled that the bus hit a mahogany tree and added that many of the passengers were brought to the hospital saying, “Mabuti nabangga sa mahogany… madami dinala sa ospital. (Good thing it hit a mahogany tree. Many were brought to the hospital.)”
Going back before the bus crash, one of the passengers occupying the first row, Zenaida Barotillo Baidal of Presentacion, Camarines Sur, narrated to SecurityMatters, “Kumakanta kanta yung driver pero dahan dahan lang patakbo niya. (The driver was even singing while driving at a slow speed.)”
As the bus got closer to the crash site, she also recalled that her companion complained about a disturbing smell similar to a burnt rubber which was dismissed by the driver and the conductor who likely heard the remark. She added that when her companion made the same remark the second time around the driver only responded by saying something went wrong with the tire, but the bus already went out of control going across the road straight through the woods.
Ironically, it was the driver who went out of the bus first among other passengers, according to Baidal. She, meanwhile, was fortunate to only have sustained minor injuries because her pants got stuck in her seat, hence keeping her from getting thrown against the steel bar.
In the hospital, a couple of injured passengers with gauze on their foreheads were rushing to the pharmacy for their medication right after receiving medical treatment. An inspector was also seen in the hospital assisting the injured passengers but refused to give an official statement on behalf of the bus company.
With rampant vehicular accidents, it is only imperative to observe safety tips while on the road, as simple as putting on your seat belt properly. Drivers, meanwhile, can learn from their passengers, too, if only they would listen and take consideration of such troubling remarks. Or if all else fails, perhaps Officer Jack Traven’s safety tips, in the 1994 film “Speed,” might come in handy: “Everybody hold onto your seats or whatever you can. When we hit the gap, heads down.”