Four students died and 19 others were injured when the passenger bus they were riding in turned turtle at 12:45 p.m. yesterday in Sitio Birao, Brgy. Dian-ay, Escalante City, Negros Occidental.
Supt. Santiago Rapiz, Escalante police chief, said the Cebro mini-bus driven by Walter Yap, with about 34 passengers was on its way to Sagay City from Brgy. Minapasok, Calatrava, when the accident took place.
The four fatalities were Seikar Manlanat, Joven Gaudia, Analyn Catubig, all 16 years old, and Noe Canete, 15, of Brgy, Bug-ang, Toboso, and students of Dian-ay High School in Escalante City, Rapiz said.
The 19 injured victims were rushed to the Alfredo Marañon Sr. District Hospital in Brgy. Bato, Sagay City, St. Anne Medical Center in Cadiz City, and to Bacolod City hospitals.
Yap, who was unhurt, but shaken by the accident, left the bus for safety reasons, but later surrendered at the Escalante City police station, where he is now detained, Rapiz said.
The bus was negotiating a downhill slope, while avoiding a service vehicle of the Department of Social Welfare and Development that was occupying its lane when the accident occurred, Rapiz said.
In the process of avoiding the DSWD vehicle, Yap failed to return to his lane, and the bus he was driving fell off the cemented road, and turned turtle several times, Rapiz added.
Investigations of the Escalante police also showed that two minors were killed on the spot, while the two others died while being transported to hospitals.
Rapiz said two of the injured passengers were in critical condition as of last night.
The other injured passengers were identified as Arnold Catubig, Eduardo Golez Jr., Orlyn and Angelo Andales, Jay R Zarsuelo, Susana Sibulan, Ana Jomocan, Enriqueta Fajardo, Ramon Dada Jr., Julie Pabalate, Neil Bryan Jison, Eizel Canete, Stephen Strada, Maria Mae Gregorio, Roland Catubig, Jaymar Marinde, Ailyn Lovero, Zacharias Abella and Paul John Martinez.
In December last year, five commuters also died, and 23 were injured, when the bus they were riding in slammed into trees at the center island of the Talisay City national highway, police records show.*GPB