MANILA -- Three people, including a former beauty queen, died when the van they were riding collided head-on with a passenger bus in Camarines Sur province Saturday morning.
Binibining Pilipinas International 2009 Melody Gersbach was among the three people killed in the vehicular accident that took place at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday at Maharlika highway in Barangay Pawili, Bula town in Camarines Sur.
Police identified the two other fatalities as Santos “Dodong” Ramos and Alden “Owen” Orense, the driver and make-up artist of Gersbach, respectively.
Gersbach's fourth companion, Ronald Lita, survived the incident and was rushed to Bicol Medical Center in Naga City for treatment. As of late Saturday, Lita was reportedly in critical condition.
Police said the 24-year-old Gersbach and her two companions died instantly when her Toyota Innova van collided head-on by Guevarra Bus Line driven by Wilson Pontillas.
Major Harold Cabunoc, public information officer of the Army's 9th Infantry Division, said the bus was going to Legazpi while Gersbach’s vehicle was heading Naga City.
Gersbach was supposed to attend Ms. Bicolandia Executive Committee meeting for Ms. Bicolandia 2010 at the Avenue Hotel in Naga City, Cabunoc said.
Before winning a Bb. Pilipinas title, Gersbach was crowned Ms. Bicolandia in 2008. She was born in Germany but her mother is from Bicol.
Even as the investigation on the incident is ongoing, Cabunoc said the bus driver voluntarily surrendered to the Municipal Police Station in Pili town.
Pontillas told police that he was trying to avoid a tricycle on the Maharlika highway when it rammed into the Toyota Innova van from the opposite direction.
Upon hearing the news, Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc. chairperson Stella Marquez-Araneta expressed sympathy to the Gersbach's family.
“Our sincerest condolences and prayers go out to her family and friends. Her death, unfortunate and untimely, has left everyone at Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. deeply saddened,” the statement read.
“Her passing will not only leave a void in our lives, but also in the hearts of everyone who knew her. Melody's memory will always remain deep within our hearts,” it added.
Araneta is currently in Las Vegas, Nevada in support of Philippine representative Maria Venus Raj for the upcoming Miss Universe 2010 competition at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Gersbach represented the Philippines in the 2009 Miss International pageant held at Macau, China.
Her remains were brought to her hometown in Daraga, Albay.
The cadavers of Orense and Ramos, on the other hand, were initially brought to Funeraria Del Carmen in Naga City.
The road accident happened three days after 41 people were killed when the bus they were riding plunged into a 150-foot ravine in Benguet province. (JFA/Glaiza Jarloc/Sunnex)