3 girls hit, killed

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Saturday, February 8, 2014


A SEDAN hit a group of high school students as they walked home in the southern town of Boljoon, Cebu last Thursday afternoon, killing three seniors and wounding three of their friends.

The girls from the Boljoon National High School were walking on the side of the road when the accident took place at 4:05 p.m. in Barangay Poblacion, police said.

A silver Toyota Vios (TCQ-652) driven by medical representative Al-Dhinier Hadjula Sanaani, 26, suddenly swerved and flipped over on the Lusapon Bridge, before hitting the teenagers.

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SPO3 Roderick Roma, chief investigator of the Boljoon Police Station, said three of the girls were thrown from the bridge and hit the riverbed, about 15 meters below.

Judy Ann Lomera, 18, was killed on the spot. Her classmate Cristy Marie Estella, 18, died in the ambulance while being rushed to Cebu City and Joanne Marie Romero, 16, succumbed to severe injuries in the Chong Hua Hospital past 10 p.m. that same day.

One of the girls’ families plans to file a criminal complaint of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide against Sanaani.

The three were best friends and were set to graduate together in March. Romero was a niece of Senior Insp. David Senyor, head of
Police Station 2 of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).

The girls who survived were identified as Nice Ancheta, 15; Melissa Mendez, 14, and her cousin Kynth Marie Mendez, 14. They are sophomores.

SPO3 Roma told Sun.Star Cebu the girls are confined in Chong Hua Hospital, where Melissa is reportedly in critical condition.

The driver, for his part, remains confined in the Cebu Doctors’ Hospital after suffering from hypertension and bruises. He is reportedly accompanied by a police officer.

An initial investigation showed Sanaani of Barangay Sambag II, Cebu City and his companion Kristin Joyce Batucan, 26, of Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City were heading home after delivering medicines in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

Swerved

Sanaani, when interviewed by police, said he lost control of the wheel after the front right tire of the sedan fell from the edge of the asphalted road. The car was reportedly going at least 70 kilometers per hour (kph).

To avoid hitting the railings, he swerved to the left, but the car flipped and hit the girls.

Sanaani and Batucan, who work for Menarini Philippines Inc., suffered minor injuries.

The police investigator said the sedan belonged to Batucan, but Sanaani drove it because she was sick.

Two of their companions in a different car were tailing them. Roma said the driver was examined and was not under the influence of liquor.

Insp. Dexter Basirgo, the town police chief, said he suspected Sanaani could have fallen asleep.

“Morag mas kusog pa gyud iyang dagan kaysa iyang giingon (It’s likely he was going faster than what he said),” he said in a separate interview.

Several vehicular accidents have also occurred in the area, which is inclined.

Sanaani was initially detained in the police station, but was transferred to a hospital after complaining of hypertension and the municipal health officer recommended that he be checked.

Witness

Trisikad driver Felix Vertudes, 45, narrowly avoided getting hurt by the accident. He told Sun.Star Cebu he met the girls on the bridge while he was delivering gallons of potable water.

“Sadya kaayo sila. Nanganta man ‘to. Nitagad pa gane ‘to nako kay uban nila mosakay man nako (They were lively and singing. Some of them greeted me; we knew one another because they sometimes hitched a ride),” Vertudes said.

The girls, he said, were walking safely on the side of the road when the car hit them.

“Nilupad ang awto dayon igo sa mga bata (The car flew and hit the girls),” Vertudes said.

Some students of Boljoon National High School immediately went to the girls’ rescue.

For their first Friday mass yesterday, they offered prayers for the girls who died and the recovery of those who were hurt.

A stress debriefing was conducted later on their classmates. The school lowered its flag to half-staff. Teachers also held a meeting and planned to give immediate financial assistance to the victims’ families.

Disbelief

Teacher Daisy Villarta, the fourth year adviser of the girls who died, said she couldn’t believe what happened.

“Dili baya ‘to mga badlungon bataa. Active pa gane ‘to sa klase (Those girls never caused any problems. They were active in class),” she said.

Marciana Mendez, whose 14-year-old daughter Melissa was among those hurt, learned about the accident from a friend who came running toward her. Marciana, 47, was selling snacks in Barangay Talisay, Boljoon, at that time.

When she arrived at the scene, she saw her daughter, her youngest, being carried by a medical team into an ambulance.

“Pwerte nako kuyawa, nagkadugo siya niya ako nisakay na lang ko derecho nga wala’y dalang kwarta padung siyudad (I was terrified.

There was blood all over her. I got into the ambulance without any money on me),” she recalled.

Marciana said she does not want to press charges against the driver, but would like his company to pay for the medical bills.

Help with bills

She said that on Thursday night, a company representative went to the hospital and promised to help them.

“Wala man ko nagdumot sa driver, wala ko masuko kay aksidente man gyud to (I’m not mad at the driver. It was an accident),” Marciana told Sun.Star Cebu.

Sun.Star Cebu tried to get Sanaani’s side, but he underwent medical tests yesterday and was not available to take questions.

Marciana said that Melissa remains confined in the pediatric Intensive Care Unit and will need at least two more surgeries.

The first surgery was done on Thursday night on her stomach. More procedures are needed on her broken arm and leg.

“Momata ra man siya pero luya siya (She wakes up every now and then, but she’s very weak,” said Marciana. Melissa is the youngest of her four children. The family still does not know how soon she can be released from the hospital or how they’re going to pay for her bills. Marciana’s husband is a driver.

“Mapasalamaton lang gihapon ko na nabuhi intawon akong anak (I’m just thankful that my daughter survived),” added Marciana.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 08, 2014.

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