Ravine fall kills 2 cops, driver in Cebu-A A +A
Friday, September 28, 2012
CEBU CITY – Two policemen and a municipal driver were killed after a patrol car they were riding plunged into a 60-foot ravine in Barangay Mantalongon in Dalaguete, Cebu Thursday dawn.
Senior Police Officer 1 Jose Gino Ursonal, 49; Police Officer 3 Cristopher Requina, 53; and Federico Caruana, 37, sustained severe injuries when they fell into huge boulders. They died on the spot.
Only Police Officer 3 Allan Sanoy, 38, of the Dalaguete Police Station survived.
The policemen were driving back to the police station from a benefit dance that they helped secure when the blue jeepney-type vehicle (SHD-128) fell in Sitio Mag-Alambac past 3 a.m. The sitio is considered an accident-prone area.
Inspector Dexter Basirgo, the town’s police chief, said they are looking at human error, a mechanical problem or the bad weather as probable cause of the accident.
A liquor test showed the policemen were not drunk.
“Maybe the driver was drowsy, or maybe the patrol car suddenly malfunctioned… or it could be because of thick fog with zero visibility,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
All three victims were residents of the southwestern town.
Policemen noted the absence of street lights, road railings and sufficient safety signs on steep portions of the road, which has been undergoing widening and concreting since January.
Last Tuesday night in Mandaue City, a police officer also died when his motorcycle rammed a bus. Two other policemen were injured in a vehicular accident in San Fernando town.
Basirgo said his men were deployed to the mountain village of Dugyan to provide security at a benefit dance in line with the barangay’s annual fiesta celebration.
The police team arrived in the area at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday and left when the activity ended at 2:10 a.m.
The hilly village is situated southwest and is 22 kilometers from the town proper.
As they were on their way to the police station in Barangay Poblacion, the vehicle swerved to the other lane before plunging into the 60-meter deep cliff.
Using his rifle to support him, Sanoy, who was still conscious, climbed back to the road and sought help from the owners of a nearby house, about 100 meters away.
He was rushed to the Julio Cardinal Rosales Memorial Hospital, where he is now recuperating.
Rescue teams composed of ambulance crew, firemen, police and municipal officials went to the site at 3:45 a.m., but the bodies of Ursunal, Requina and Caruana were only retrieved past 5 a.m. due to bad weather. They were brought to St. William’s Funeral Homes.
Another rescue group from the municipal motor pool and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council were sent out to recover the vehicle at 8:20 a.m.
Two M-16 rifles and a .38 revolver owned by Requina were recovered at the site.
Rydal Cisneros, the municipal administrator of Dalaguete, said the local government will shoulder the burial expenses of the three men and extend aid to their families.
In an ABS-CBN TV Patrol Central Visayas report, Cisneros said the victims tested negative of liquor.
He said that during the benefit dance, the barangay officials of Dugayan offered the policemen liquor but they refused.
The victims were always reminded by their superiors not to drink alcohol while on duty, lest they face sanction or dismissal.
For his part, Senior Superintendent Patrocinio Comendador, head of Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), directed his men to facilitate the release of the death benefits of the policemen to their families.
He said they were saddened by the tragedy, especially because the policemen and the driver died in the line of duty.
Comendador said he is still waiting for the report if the vehicle, which Governor Gwen Garcia gave to CPPO in 2004, had any mechanical problem.
Because of the accident, Comendador ordered all police station chiefs in the province to ensure the safety of their personnel. He also plans to hold a seminar on safe driving for all civilian drivers of police stations.
In an interview Thursday, Mantalongon Barangan Councilor Venancio Geolin said the site is “enchanted.”
Two people died while seven others were injured in separate vehicular accidents since the 1990s, he said.
“Naa ma’y kalit magpakita dihang dapita, (Someone would suddenly appear out of nowhere),” Geolin, 42, said.
He recalled that a town priest got disoriented when a man suddenly approached him and demanded payment for their houses that were demolished.
Geolin said the area used to be filled with trees, but these were cut to give way to the ongoing reconstruction project, which is due to be finished next month.
“Murag mao ni ilang gusto nga bayad (This is their form of payback),” Geolin said.(Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 28, 2012.