CEBU CITY—Lyle Hecx Adrian Firmeza went to Basilica del Santo Niño in Cebu City on Wednesday together with his mother to attend the novena Mass and light candles for his 15th birthday.
Little did he know that it would be his last birthday.
The bus that was supposed to take him and his mother home in Barangay Don Andres Soriano (DAS), Toledo City, was rammed by an incoming trailer prime mover in Sitio Gaway-gaway, Uling, Naga City, at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday.
Firmeza was one of the 11 fatalities of the accident but his mother, Mary Aileen, suffered only minor injuries.
PO2 Cristino Canono, investigator from the Naga City police station who responded to the accident, said five persons died on the spot, including Antonico Omagay, the driver of the trailer prime mover that was carrying a bulldozer from Toledo City to Cebu City.
Canono said the trailer prime mover, which was owned by WT Construction Inc., was running downhill in a curved road when it malfunctioned and lost control of the brakes, so it rammed into the BT bus, which was on its way to Toledo City.
After plowing the bus toward the side of the road, the trailer rammed into a mango tree, pinning Omagay to death.
Aside from Firmeza and Omagay, the fatalities included Emmanuel Gaudise, 28, of Talavera, Toledo City; Almira Pamandanan, 36, DAS, Toledo City; Cayetana Fernandez, DAS, Toledo City; Julie Pajamutan, Uling, Naga City; Dionny Pajamutan, Uling, Naga City; Melvin Costanilla, Toledo City; Lilita Etang, 51, of Balamban; Jamesly Carpentero, 20, from DAS, Toledo City; and Valeriano Purisima, 52, from Casoy, Toledo City.
More than 50 passengers were also injured in the accident.
Firmeza’s uncle, Gail Firmeza, said his sister was devastated because Firmeza was her only child. Mary Aileen was not married to Firmeza’s father, a retired policeman in Dipolog.
But Mary Aileen had accepted her son’s tragic fate, Gail said in an interview with station dyLa. He stressed that his nephew’s death did not affect their family’s faith in Señor Sto Niño.
Firmeza had always gone to the basilica on his birthday. But this year, Firmeza’s grandmother Maria Clara had asked him not to go to the church, Gail said.
Despite his grandmother’s request, Firmeza decided to go to the basilica with his mother.
On their trip back home, Firmeza was seated at the back of the driver while his mother was on the opposite seat on his right.
According to Gail, Aileen was able to hold on to her seat shortly before the accident because she saw that a trailer truck was about to ram the bus they were riding. However, Firmeza was thrown from his seat and suffered head injuries.
When he arrived at the accident site at past 5 p.m., Firmeza was dead, Gail said.
Several bystanders, however, told him that his nephew was still alive shortly after the accident.
The Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have inspected the accident site to determine what had happened.
The LTFRB has yet to decide if they would issue a suspension order on the franchise of Calvo Bus Liner, which owns the BT bus.