Nueva Ecija bus, motorcycle, tanker crash: 9 killed, 8 hurt
SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ—Leoncio Pajarillo, 39, was ferrying his wife, Evangeline, 42, on his motorcycle to the city center here to catch a bus for Metro Manila. She was to attend an orientation for an overseas job. They never made it. They didn’t know what hit them.
They were among the nine people killed with eight others injured on Wednesday when a Metro Manila-bound bus hit a fuel tanker on Maharlika Highway at Barangay (village) Bantug here, police said.
The drivers of the bus and tanker and the Pajarillo couple on a motorcycle were among those killed in the accident on a newly paved section of the highway in Purok (sub village) Villa Medina at 2:30 a.m.
Supt. Michael Angelo Zuñiga, city police chief, said the Victory Liner bus, which came from Cagayan province, tried to avoid the motorcycle carrying Pajarillo and his wife, and hit the fuel tanker instead on the opposite lane.
The Pajarillos died instantly but police could not say which vehicle hit their motorcycle.
The other fatalities were bus driver Victor Ryan Camanguig, tanker driver Silvino Marzo and Donatella Aquino and Marife Cale-Bondoc, who were among 44 passengers of the bus. Three other fatalities, all of them women, have yet to be identified.
The eight injured passengers were taken to hospitals in San Jose and Cabanatuan cities.
Ronnie Calica, one of the two bus drivers, said the vehicle left its terminal in Tuao, Cagayan, for Pasay City at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Calica drove the bus from Cagayan to San Jose City. There, after a pit stop about 12 kilometers from the accident site, he turned over the wheel to his alternate driver, Camanguig.
Calica dismissed reports that Camanguig was sleepy while on the wheel. “He just relieved me in San Jose City. It was my turn to sleep and I was awakened when I fell off my seat,” said Calica, who was seated at the rear section of the bus.
Lilibeth Geron, 33, said her fellow passengers started screaming and jumping out of the windows when they saw other passengers strewn around.
“The impact of the collision was frightening. People were screaming,” said Geron, who complained of leg pains.
Another passenger, Rowella Elepante, 26, said she felt the bus swerve before it hit the tanker.
“I was seated five rows from the driver and was wide awake. I felt the bus swerving to the left as it avoided hitting a motorcycle. In an instant, I heard a loud thud. Then I immediately smelled diesel fumes,” Elepante said.
She said the front part of the bus was wrecked. Four passengers in that section died instantly, she said.
Thelma Estera, a professor at Central Luzon State University whose house is a few meters from the accident site, said she took in some of the dazed survivors and provided them food.
Firemen cleaned up the fuel spilled on the highway. Traffic was stalled for at least five hours until the vehicles were removed at 7:30 a.m.
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