FIFTEEN passengers were killed on the spot as the bus they were riding rammed into a concrete fence near a school in Landing, Toledo City yesterday afternoon.
At least 49 injured passengers were brought to the Toledo City District Hospital. Among the survivors was an unidentified boy, about one year old, whose parents died in the crash.
“Wa na may brake. Wa na ko’y kapaingnan. Paglusad na, nakabantay ko wa na’y brake (We lost the brake. I had no choice. While going downhill, I noticed the brake wasn’t working anymore),” said Diosdado Requiso, 48, who has been driving the bus for over a year.
Bus operator Corominas Bros. said it is double-checking all its units “to ensure the safety of the riding public, most of whom we’ve known and served well for more than three decades.”
In a statement, it said it will wait for the official findings of investigators and will take responsibility for the casualties and injuries.
Hours before the accident, parishioners put up a decorated arch at the site, near the Uncrona chapel and the Don Andres Soriano National High School, in preparation for a fiesta. The bus crushed the arch, as well as the gate of a house. Among those killed on the spot was a two-year-old child.
The bus was going downhill when it lost its brakes. It fell on its right side after hitting the gate, which caused many passengers on the right side to be crushed. Some were thrown off.
The accident happened two weeks before the barangay fiesta and less than two kilometers from where a trailer truck crashed and killed four people on the eve of another fiesta last June 21.
The front and right side of the V&JA bus (GVG-145) were destroyed when it hit the wall around 5:45 p.m.
The bus left the Cebu City South Bus Terminal for Tuburan at 4 p.m.
All of the casualties were brought to St. Francis Funeral Homes in Poblacion, Toledo City. Among those identified were Alfredo Pasillos, 55, of Barangay Bato, Toledo City; Flordeliz Benting, 37, of Barangay Colonia, Tuburan; her son Cyril Benting, 10, and adopted son Sian Vincent Bazarte, 15; and Maximo Agsoy, 55.
Witness Laurencia Silgas, 31, was on her way to a store to buy noodles for dinner, when the bus nearly sideswiped her.
She said the bus moved fast, but zigzagged.
Requiso, a driver for 12 years, said in a radio dySS interview he was frightened that more people were ahead, so he opted to let the bus hit the wall, to stop it.
The bus can seat 53 passengers, but there were more than 60 at the time of the accident, as people were rushing home for the weekend. Most of the passengers lived in Balamban, Tuburan and Asturias.
He said it was his first accident. He always made sure the engine and brakes were okay, and he found nothing wrong before yesterday’s trip.
“Nasubo gyod ko sa akong kaugalingon (I’m devastated),” he said.
Now detained at the Toledo City Police Station, he will most likely face a charge of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide.
Requiso survived with nothing but minor wounds on his legs. He was wearing a seatbelt. A motorcycle driver drove him to the nearest police sub-station.
The Land Transportation Office (LTO), according to a radio dyAB report, suspended the operation of the Corominas Bros. buses, which will be tested for roadworthiness. Their bus drivers will have to undergo a seminar.
PO3 Julius Sanchez of Traffic Division said the site is accident-prone.
There is a sign telling drivers to slow down, near the elementary and high schools at the foot of the slope.
Uncroan chapel president Ringo Starr Acuman said that before the ambulance and policemen came, he and some neighbors helped some 30 passengers get out of the wrecked bus.
Among those they found was a boy, about one year old, who is now with the Toledo City police.
The 49 injured passengers that were brought to the Toledo District Hospital were identified as Edilberto Alferez, Elemar Jurado, Evelyn Belio, Francisco de la Cruz, Julemar Andevor, Fe Tundag, Ronald Atillo, Concepcion Omandac, Rolando Dolina, Bernando Enario, Felipe Enting, Criselda Narvasa, Antonio Plameran, Rolando Edima, Alan Resgonia, Beranardo Baliguat III, Mildred Curay, Roger Molde, Neron Undalok, Willie Baselis, Hermeniano Benita, Rogelio Caro Jr., Pobito Permacio Jr., Alfredo Paselos, Maurecio Repdos, Abel Paisano, Estrella Ababon, Juan Gargar, Berlito Rebalde, Cerinaico Salondait, Triffon Jay Villamor, Alquin Baring, Jerry Waskin, Leizalda Ababon, Antonio De Gracia Jr., Emelito Ortega, Antonio Tugbong, Luzviminda Tugbong, Luciano Buro, Gomer Galriate, Jerry Romero, Neil Benting, Roger Dakay, Pitra Dakay, Joneveb Cases, Roy Bangkok, Bonifacio Mangara, Juanito Batolan and Herminiano Guinita.