CEBU CITY—At least 37 persons, including children and teenagers, were wounded on Wednesday morning when the village-owned bus they were riding fell into a 20-foot ravine in Barangay (village) Quiot, this city.
Most victims suffered bruises in their arms and legs but were declared on a stable condition.
Only three of the injured, including 6-year-old Josie Rose Pacaña, were confined at the hospital while the others were released after treatment.
The victims were among more than 40 persons composed of children, teenagers, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials, teachers and parents who were heading to a retreat house in San Carlos Heights located in the mountain village of Quiot for a whole-day seminar called Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) organized by the Basak-Pardo SK.
Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak said 34 students of Don Vicente Rama Memorial Elementary and High Schools, aged 6-17, were on board the bus owned by Barangay Basak-Pardo.
Tumulak said they were accompanied by seven barangay officials and parents.
Ivy Pacaña, Basak-Pardo barangay councilor, said she asked the bus driver, Cristiniano Palabrica, to just drop them off at a lower portion of the barangay as the road toward the retreat house was quite steep.
But the driver assured Pacaña that he could to take them directly to the retreat house.
Palabrica, who was with his wife Imedia and two children, claimed that what happened was an accident. He said he was maneuvering the minibus uphill to San Carlos Heights when he lost control of the vehicle.
He said the minibus suddenly lost power and started to move downhill. He tried to move the steering wheel but it was stuck. He also tried stepping on the brakes but these didn’t work.
The minibus first rammed into a concrete barrier before it fell into a ravine about 20-foot deep, said Joy Tumulak, Cebu City Traffic Operations and Management executive officer and twin brother of the councilor.
Joy Tumulak said that based on witnesses accounts, the minibus engine malfunctioned while the vehicle was maneuvering uphill and suddenly slid back down the incline.
The Basak Pardo Emergency Response immediately proceeded to the area of the accident, rescued the passengers and brought them to Cebu City Medical Center.