NIKKI J. DELOS REYES
TWO school officials died while 26 others, mostly student athletes from University of Rizal System (URS), were injured when the bus they were riding fell into a ravine along the national road in Barangay Nicolas Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro at about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Police identified the fatalities as Elmer Dacillo, 61, URS sports director and Jonathan Peñada, 51, director of the URS-Binangonan campus.
Senior Police Officer 1 Daniel Habanera of the Magsaysay Police Office said the bus driver identified as Julius Beleno, 35, fled after the accident.
He said initial investigation showed the bus swerved to the left of the road to avoid hitting the coaster ahead but lost its brakes and fell into the ravine.
The Aloja bus (RNJ 324), with 44 passengers composed of student athletes and school sports officials, was traveling to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro from Rizal province to attend the Southern Tagalog Regional Association of State Universities and Colleges (Strasuc) Olympics 2017 that the Occidental Mindoro State College (OMSC) was hosting. It was to start this Monday and end on Friday11, December 15.
Meanwhile, Carmenita Aranda a teacher from the URS Binangonan Campus told The Manila Times in an interview that 19 of them were riding the school’s coaster that the bus was following when they heard a loud crashing sound. They stopped and saw the bus falling into the ravine.
The students brought to the San Jose Occidental Mindoro (SJOM) District Hospital for treatment were: Reynica Pitular, 18; Jaya Sarausos, 20; Ivan Miguel Cuyong, 20; Lovely Jean Santiago, 21; Krystel Anore, 23; Daisy Ann Morgado, 19; Rosell Serapica 22; Jackie Pascu, 22; Nathan Francis Esguerra 20; Karl Ryel Valle, 20, all of Binangonan Rizal; Jomicoh Hann Perpetua, 20, of Morong; Kimuel Joshua Sabono, 25, of Cardona; Mary Jane Ancog, 19, of Rodriguez; Joven Gapas, 20, of Antipolo; Jerome Juanico, 25, of Angonol and Jake Bagon, 22, of Payatas, Quezon City.
Also injured were Cristina Lestina, 25, from Binangonan; Angelito Fernando, 38, a physician from Antipolo; Marian Castro, 41, a nurse from Tanay, and Jommel Tomas, 39, the bus conductor from Quezon City.
The others brought to Westmin Hospital in San Jose City were Adrian Maniaol, 40, sports director, of Rodriguez; Renato Delemon, 55, URS budget officer; Julieann Pareja, 19, student, of Tayuman, Rizal and Mariano Tulod, 24, of Cardona. They were later transferred to the district hospital while Mary Anne de Castro and Maricel Maniaol were brought to Calapan Hospital.
On Sunday a Mass was offered for the accident victims at the OMSC Labangan Campus with the survivors in attendance.
The URS officials decided to cancel their participation in this year’s Strasuc olympics after the tragic accident.