Their minivan rammed head-on by SUV driven by man fleeing from police
Two Cebuanos were among four people killed in a car crash when their minivan collided with a another vehicle that was eluding a high-speed police chase in Florida, USA on Tuesday night.
The freak accident resulted in the death of 31-year-old Albertson Anthony Almase and his 26-year-old sister Kristina Angela Almase.
The siblings were killed along with their friends, Dennis Ryan Rinon Ortiz, 33, of Daly City, California and Lily Marie Azarcon, 26 .
The group was on their way back to their hotel in Miami after watching a Miami Heat game when their Kia Sorento was rammed head-on by a Chevrolet Suburban SUV whose driver was being chased by Florida Highway Patrol troopers on Interstate 95.
The Almase sibling were US citizens but had studied in Cebu City in their younger years.
Their aunt in Cebu, lawyer Sylvia Almase-Suarez, is the daughter of Teodoro Almase, dean of the University of the Visayas College of Law.
“We’re devastated by the news. They were still young people. They had so many plans for themselves,”said Sylvia.
She and the victims’ father Albert Almase are first cousins.
She said the 31-year-old Albertson Anthony took up a physical therapy course in a Cebu City school before joining the US Navy while Kristina obtained her nursing degree from a Cebu City university and was applying for enlistment with the US Navy.
An Inquirer report said Albertson Anthony was a petty officer 2nd class in the US Navy. He had served in San Diego and was about to begin his next assignment in Virginia.
One report said Kristina just got married in December and moved to Fort Lauderdale, from Cebu City in March. (However, her aunt, Sylvia, told Cebu Daily News that Kristina was single.)
A report in the Miami Herald said that Kristina had been at a seminar, according to The Pulp blog, which printed an e-mail to New Times from Giane Zosa Ebias, identified as Kristina’s ‘best friend.’
“Almase was ‘planning to go back to school again,’ Ebias wrote.
‘We graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 2011. ‘Tina was the perfect mom, friend, daughter, and sister. She’s the youngest among three siblings. A single mom. She was the only one who stayed in the Philippines because she wanted to take care of her dad, a retired Navy Seal. She has a daughter named Kirsten, whom she loves and cares for so much. Awhile ago her daughter wanted to speak to Tina through Skype, all we could do was just turn around and cry and told Kirsten that mommy was still busy.’”
The victims’ 54-year-old father, who also served in the US Navy, was taken to a hospital when his blood pressure shot up after he was told of the death of his children.
“They (victims) were just at the wrong place, at the wrong time. All the while, a parent expects to go before his children. It’s really hard,” said Sylvia in Cebu.
“It will take time for their father to accept what happened. The parents have to go through the process,” she added.
Another accident victim, Ortiz, a graduate of the Ateneo School of Business, was the International Sales Director (US Territory) of Alveo Land, an Ayala Land Company.
The fourth victim, Azarcon, was one of his member property representatives from a group of five who were sent a few months ago by Ayala Land to sell condominium properties to the Filipino American market.
Reports said the minivan was coming from the southbound lane when it collided with the SUV.
Police said the crash began with an “improper right turn” by the Chevy Suburban on an Opa-locka street corner.
Reports claimed a police officer on patrol saw it and switched on his blinkers and siren. The driver of the Chevy Suburban hit the gas and the chase was on.
“When it was over, the four were dead, innocent victims in a chassis-shredding, wrong-way crash that shut down I-95 for hours,” reported The Miami Herald.
Willie Dummel, 26, identified by police as the driver of the SUV, was taken to the Memorial Regional Hospital for treatment of broken legs, reports said.
Police said Cpl. Sergio Perez, stopped pursuing when the SUV entered the interstate going the wrong way, according to news reports. Police claimed that a gun was flung out of the SUV which had been recovered near the crash scene.
Joint police operatives in Miami are investigating the incident.
A close associate of the victims who refused to be named told Inquirer.net that the Almases were friends of Azarcon, who were showing them around Miami during their visit.
A family representative in Cebu is set to travel to the US to bring back the remains of the victims after their cremation in the US.
Almase-Suarez said she has not seen Albertson Anthony since he joined the US Navy and was assigned in Japan.
On the other hand, she was with Kristina during the Sinulog festival in Cebu last January.
“When she travelled abroad last March, she called me up. Kristina planned to take up dentistry and she was taking some motivational courses.She had high hopes for the future,” she said.
Almase-Suarez said the siblings met in the US to go on vacation and were supposed to visit their grandfather in West Virginia before the accident happened.
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