Operator, driver of bus in Skyway accident face criminal charges | Inquirer News

Operator, driver of bus in Skyway accident face criminal charges

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 01:13 AM December 17, 2013

‘UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED’. Bald tires may have led to hydroplaning of the speeding Don Mariano Transit on the southbound lane of the Skyway in Parañaque City near the Sucat exit on Monday. Hydroplaning occurs when a fast-moving object like a bus glides on a wet surface, making it difficult to control. The bus plunged onto the West Service Road in Barangay Marcelo and hit a van. Eighteen people, mostly bus passengers, were killed and 16 others were injured. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

The operator and driver of the bus that plunged off the Skyway and fell onto a van in Parañaque City early Monday, killing at least 18 people and injuring 16 others, are facing criminal charges, police said.

Driver Carmelo Calatcat and the owner of Don Mariano Transit Corp. will be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries, said Supt. Elizabeth Velasquez, spokesperson for the Highway Patrol Group.


“Regardless of whether this is a case of human error or a mechanical problem, the driver and the operator of the bus will be charged,” Velasquez told reporters.

Malacañang said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) had ordered the suspension of all 78 buses of Don Mariano Transit Corp. for 30 days.


“The owner of Don Mariano [Transit Corp.] was already informed, and [had said she would] comply with that directive,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, adding that the suspension was part of the investigation into the cause of the accident.

The bus driven by Calatcat veered off the Skyway and crashed onto a van 9.6 meters below at about 5:30 a.m., Velasquez said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the accident, but the elevated highway was wet because of the rain, said Ivy Vidal, a spokesperson for Skyway Operations and Maintenance Corp.

Irene Sisperes, a motorist who witnessed the accident, said she was driving with her daughter at 80 kilometers per hour when the bus overtook her car. She estimated that the bus was traveling at between 100 kph and 110 kph.

Sisperes said it was still dark and it was raining when the accident happened.

“After a few meters, I saw the bus fall and I shouted, ‘The bus fell, the bus fell,’” she said in a radio interview. She said there were no other cars nearby.

Sisperes said she saw the damaged guard rail of the highway and some debris and reported the accident at the toll gate.


The plunge

An accident investigator, SP02 Isidra Dumlao of the Highway Patrol Group, quoted two survivors from the bus as saying the bus careened before hitting the guard rail.

“They felt the bus [jump] and the next thing they knew they were falling,” Dumlao said.

The bus crashed nose first on a delivery van on the northbound side of West Service Road, flipped and landed on its left side near the sidewalk of the southbound side, in front of junk shops and a variety store, where it grazed a tree and an early morning cyclist.

The bus was flattened, its windows crumpled, seats uprooted, passengers crushed or thrown out on impact. Television footage showed a number of bodies strewn around the bus wreckage with police officers nearby. The van was an unrecognizable pile of smashed white metal.

Velasquez earlier reported that 21 people died and 20 others were injured but later said there appeared to have been double counting amid the confusion.

She said she was verifying reports that 17 died and several others were injured.

Traffic officer Jose Abuyog said the death toll could go higher, as some of the injured were in serious condition.

Angelo Dequina, an employee at a funeral parlor in the area, said 17 bodies from the accident were brought to their mortuary from hospitals and from the crash site.

Calls to five hospitals where the victims were taken showed at least 16 people injured from the accident had been admitted.

Velasquez earlier said the van’s driver was killed and the bus driver was in serious condition in a hospital. But Dr. Carmencita Solidum, medical director of Parañaque Doctors’ Hospital, said the two drivers were among the 10 injured who were at her hospital.

Calatcat, the bus driver, was critically injured and the van driver, identified as Gilbert Montallana, had minor injuries, she said.

7 identified

By dusk, only seven of the fatalities had been identified through identification cards found on them and through cross-referencing IDs found on the bus with bodies in the morgues.

The seven were Roger Orquejo, Mary Ann Superio, Roberto Bautista, Arnold Jimenos, Jean Angelique Cadiz, Joey Esponilla and Rodel Tolentino.

The dead were taken to Taguig-Pateros District Hospital, Amigo Funeral Parlor in Lower Bicutan, Taguig City, and Veronica’s Funeral Parlor in Pasay City.

Besides Parañaque Doctors’ Hospital, the injured were taken to Parañaque Medical Center, Ospital ng Muntinlupa and South Superhighway Hospital.

Ryan Bresa, a bus passenger who survived, said the bus may have been traveling too fast and the driver tried to control the vehicle before it fell off the Skyway.

Quoting survivors, Dumlao said Calatcat was speeding when the accident happened.

“The roads were also wet, as it was raining. It was still dark,” she said.

Responder Roden Perez, a senior security officer at Skyway Operations and Maintenance Corp., said the tires of the bus, especially the ones in front, were worn out.

Dionisio Tasara, 40, a construction worker, said that before the accident, he saw the bus avoid hitting another vehicle, which could have made the driver lose control of the bus.

Second case

The Don Mariano Transit bus was the second to fall off the Skyway, Dumlao said.

In 2011, a Dimple Star bus fell off the elevated highway, killing three people and injuring four others.

Monday’s accident drew a quick reaction from the government because of the number of fatalities.

In Malacañang, Lacierda noted complaints about reckless driving and speeding despite speed limits.

Lacierda said the government would also look into the “competency of professional drivers.”

The LTFRB said the victims of Monday’s accident or their families were entitled to compensation under the agency’s passenger insurance program.

The board said the families of the dead were entitled to P75,000 in compensation and the injured were entitled to P15,000.

UCPB Insurance will provide the compensation and Don Mariano Transit Corp. will shoulder the medical expenses of the injured.


LTFRB chief Winston Ginez confirmed the suspension of Don Mariano Transit Corp.’s seven franchises covering 78 buses.

He said the investigation had begun and it would focus on the roadworthiness of the buses and the competence of the drivers.

The investigation will also include drug tests for the drivers, he said.

“We will then set a case for hearing sometime next year for determination of the main decision against Don Mariano,” Ginez said, adding that previous accidents involving the company would be taken into account.

The steepest penalty the LTFRB could impose on Don Mariano Transit Corp., he said, is revocation of licenses, meaning the company will not be allowed to operate anymore.—With reports from Christian V. Esguerra, Maricar Brizuela, AP and AFP



18 killed after bus falls from Skyway – police

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TAGS: Bus accident, criminal charges, Parañaque, Road accident, skyway
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