Posted on 14 November 2011.
Not so long ago we covered the deadly bus accident in Balamban, and now the next deadly bus accident happened in Cebu. This deadly crash came expected though as you will find out at the end of the article…
An overloaded bus yesterday swerved off the road in Toledo City and crashed into the concrete fence of a house, killing at least 15 passengers, including two boys aged 10 and 15.
From the wreckage, a one-year-old boy was found unhurt. He was turned over to social workers after no one claimed him as of 10 p.m. Authorities suspect his travel companion was among those killed.
Many of the dead and the 48 injured passengers were from Tuburan town, the destination of the bus. Survivors said the Corominas-owned bus was traveling at high speed going downhill in a steep portion of the road in sito Landing, barangy Don Andres Soriano (also called Lutopan) past 5 p.m.
The driver, Diosdado Requiso, 48, said he lost control of the bus after its brakes malfunctioned. Except for two bruises in his left leg, he was unscathed. “Wala na koy kapaingnan kay naa may enkwentro sa pikas. Wa na ko kakontrol (I had nowhere else to go because the other lane was occupied. I couldn’t control the vehicle),” he told reporters at the Toledo police station, where a motorcycle habal-habal driver brought him. “Nasubo gyud ko.” (I deeply regret this.)
The driver said this was his first major accident in the 12 years he’s been working for the Corominas bus line. The unit he was driving was about a year old. If not for the house fence along the road, the bus would have fallen further down and off a cliff.
Carlina Yaquit, 21, was at home watching television when the bus rammed the family’s concrete fence. She said she suddenly heard a loud crash. When she went outside, she said there were bodies strewn in the front yard. Three bodies were later found in the garden. “Kalit kaayo. Murag gipangyabyab,” she said.
The bus was going at a fast clip, according to witnesses and passengers. “Kusog jud ang dagan,” said Ringo Starr Acuman, who was standing across the street with his wife, when the crash occurred.
The 53-seater bus was carrying more than its ideal capacity, a common practice in provincial buses. At the crash site, the bus lay on its side with the center portion torn open. Fortunately, no bystanders were injured. The bus left Cebu City about 4 p.m. with 64 passengers on its way to the west coast town of Tuburan.
A survivor Petra Dakay, 70, said the bus was so full, some passengers stood in the aisle. She and her husband were on their way home to Toledo City. Dakay said she was nervous with the way the driver was going fast along the curving roads so she closed her eyes to go to sleep. She said she was awakened by screams that filled the bus. She fractured her elbow and injured her head.
Another passenger Jerry Waskin, 24, of Asturias town, was seated at the center of the bus. He, too, said people were standing in the center aisle. He said the driver was going fast even if he was aware the road was steep.
In a press statement, the management of Corominas Bros. said it “stands by its commitment as operator”. “We will not renege on our responsibility to those who are injured and to the casualties. Even as we await for the official findings of the proper investigating agencies, we are also, on our own, double checking all units to ensure the safety of the riding public, most of whom we’ve known and served well for more than three decades.”
“It’s human error”, said P03 Julius Sanchez, investigator of the Toledo City Police Station , who went into the accident site. The bus fell on its side and several passengers were pinned to death inside the bus, Sanchez said.
More than 20 victims were brought to the Toledo District hospital where they were treated for head injuries and bone fractures. Nurse Rubie Fernandez told radio dyLA three patients died there – a teenage girl, an elderly man in his 70s and another man in his 40s.
Before midnight, 30 passengers were rushed to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, where Code Red was declared, calling all medical staff on duty.
The bus operator assured it would shoulder medical expenses and give cash assistance to families of the victims. “This was really an accident. I hope they understand,” said lawyer Edmund Villanueva, counsel of Corominas Brothers. “My clients have really exercised being responsible bus operators. They have checked their older units. They’ve been in the business for three decades. This is their worst accident.”
The VJ & A bus with plate number GVG 145 was among three buses bought one and a half years ago. The fleet has about 20 buses owned separately by different family members, said former Cebu Provincial Board member Victoria Corominas. She said all their buses undergo regular check-up and daily maintenance after a trip. She confirmed that the driver, Requiso, had served a long time in the company and was an expert driver.
The remains of all 15 dead passengers are in St. Francis Memorial Home in Toledo City where authorities are waiting for relatives to identify and claim them. Yesterday’s crash was the fourth major vehicular accident since June 13 when a tourist bus fell into a ravine in the Transcentral Highway in Balamban town, killing the bus driver and 20 Iranians on holiday.
On June 21, a trailer truck carrying two container vans lost its brake in Poog, Toledo City. Four bystanders outside the church were crushed to death. A few days later, a Ceres bus also crashed in a curved road in Sogod town, northern Cebu injuring 12 persons on June 24.
Knowing how drivers, especially those of jeepneys and public buses drive, speeding and often under the influence of either alcohol or more often drugs, you don’t have to wonder how this could happen. And as long as the drivers are allowed or not punished for such behavior there wont be any change. More deadly accidents are bound to happen in Cebu.
Why was this accident expected?
I have seen many buses speeding and overtaking cars on small roads in Cebu. The drivers often drive like they don’t really want to stay alive for long. Drugged eyes, smoking cigarettes while driving, texting and calling behind the wheel.
After the last deadly crash – what actions have been taken? All the buses of the company involved have been tested from the LTO, most of them not road-worthy. Another test a while later suggested they can all drive now. Fines for the bus rental company? Not so sure. Did you ever see a checkpoint for buses somewhere on the road? Do Tanods even care what happens on the roads? Not really it seems as you can speed past them or cross the red light in front of their eyes and nothing happens.
But we have a good traffic police in Cebu, right? They give good examples? Check this report about the policeman on a motorcycle in Cebu and think again…
Most accidents get classified as “mistake” – nobody wants to see the reasons behind these accidents. The lawyers of the Toledo crash company above are also very fast assuring it was a “human error”. This is correct, but not just the driver is the one who made the mistake here, it is also the company behind him, the government and Cebu City officials who make mistakes in allowing such things to happen.
The government of Cebu does not seem to enthusiastic about stopping deadly accidents or increasing the safety on the roads, unfortunately
What options do we have?
Don’t use buses or jeepneys one could say. But is that really an option? Of course not. Call for the new Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama to address the driving habits of Cebu’s Public Transportation drivers? Probably an option. But we can and should all start telling the drivers not to smoke while driving, not to speed or talk on their mobile phones while they drive. All jeepneys and buses have a number plate or even a LTO number, so you can phone the company or the LTO and make a complaint about that specific driver.
And then of course the LTO as the responsible organization should have to take action. Who can implement this? This goes out again to our new Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama.
We have to get these devil-drivers off the roads of Cebu for God’s sake. Do you want to have someone of your family killed on the road? Are you not thinking about the safety of your kids while they are outside? Come on Cebu, we can and have to do better than this…