By AARON RECUENCO
A privately-owned jeepney collided head-on with a passenger bus, killing 20 occupants on Christmas Day in Agoo, La Union.
Ten other jeepney passengers were injured in the 3:30 a.m. crash along the national highway in Barangay San Jose while the bus driver identified as Rodel Sadac and 15 of his passengers escaped with minor injuries.
All the wounded were brought to the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center (ITRMC) for treatment, according to Chief Supt. Romulo Sapitula, director of the Ilocos regional police.
The two vehicles collided with such force and impact that many of the dead were thrown off the jeepney. Bodies lay sprawled on the road as rescuers rushed to attend to those needed attention.
Except for Nelson Cabuenas, who died while undergoing treatment at the ITRMC, the victims were declared dead on arrival.
Among the fatalities were six children, including six-month old Kyle Cabagbag. They were Anna Karina Ramiscal, Claudia Cabradilla, Nadine Joy Cabuenas, Norin Ivy Cabuenas, and Neil Ivan Cabuenas.
Police also identified the dead as driver Rolando Perez Jr., Florence Cabuenas, Pepito Antolin, Cecil Antolin, Mark Jerson Cabero, Rolando Perez, Vicky Cabagbag, Jeraldine Cabradilla, Kenny Cabagbag, Manuelito Lomboy Jr., Claudine Cabradilla, Adila Antolin, Jeffrey Cabradilla, and Vergie Antolin.
The ill-fated jeepney was on its way to a dawn service at the centuries-old Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan.
The bus, owned by Partas Bus Lines, was travelling to Laoag City from Manila.
Initial investigation showed that the jeepney tried to overtake a slow-moving vehicle before it crashed into the bus travelling from the opposite late.
The crash reduced the jeepney into a junk heap.
Nearly all the jeepney survivors suffered bone fractures of varying degrees, according to a hospital staff who asked not to be named because of lack of authority to speak.
“Some may have to be brought to the orthopaedic hospital in Manila,” the source said.
Police identified the injured jeepney passengers as Ronald Cabuenas, Ednalyn Ramirez, Ian Antolin, Herson Cabiro, Wenalyn Cabuenas, Jessa Mae Cabradilla, Chita Cabradilla, Johny Cabradilla, and Jocelyn Cabradilla.
Road accidents are common with many of them attributed to overspeeding, bad overtaking and mechanical trouble based on the records of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group.
More than 1,000 deaths from road accidents are recorded every year in the country.