Three killed, 36 others hurt as jeepney crashes into tree

An overloaded passenger jeepney crashed into a tree, killing its three passengers, and wounding 36 others in Barangay Malatas, Calatrava, Negros Occidental Friday. (Photo courtesy of Calatrava Municipal Police Station)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – Three women died while 36 others were wounded after an overloaded passenger jeepney crashed into a tree at Sitio Proper, Barangay Malatas, Calatrava, Negros Occidental last Friday.

Killed in the accident were Rutchell Visitacion, 32, of Barangay Malatas; Elma Baynosa, 72, of Barangay Hilub-ang; and Aranita Agravante, 63, of Barangay Hinab-ongan.

The 36 wounded individuals, including the driver and conductor, were taken to Calatrava Municipal Hospital.

Police Major Lumyaen Lidawan, Calatrava town police chief, said that most of the wounded passengers were high school students and elementary pupils who were on their way home when the accident happened.

Of the wounded passengers, Visitacion’s seven-month-old baby boy is still under observation and was referred to Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH) here, while five others are waiting for the results of their CT scan and X-ray.

Lidawan said that the rest of the wounded individuals have been discharged from the hospital.

Jeepney driver Jose Jequito Florencondia, 53, of Barangay Suba, was approaching the descending part of the road when he lost control of the vehicle after its brakes malfunctioned.

The vehicle then swerved and accelerated after passing through the humps.

Before crashing into a tree, the vehicle hit two houses and two motorcycles parked at the roadside, Lidawan said.

The houses were damaged, while the motorcycles were destroyed, he added.

Lidawan said that the capacity of the jeepney was only for 22 passengers, including the driver and the conductor. However, it exceeded more than 100 percent of its capacity, he added.

In fact, some students were already on top of the jeepney and were thrown off during the accident.

Aside from the passengers, the jeepney also carried some cargo.

Lidawan said that it took an hour for rescuers to remove the fatalities from the vehicle, as they were stuck due to the impact.

He said that Visitacion and her baby were seated in the front seat, while the two other fatalities were seated at the back of the driver’s seat.

“Naipit talaga sila because of the impact,” he added.

“Luma na ang jeep and hindi na talaga safe,” Lidawan said. He said they even discovered that the vehicle is out of route, as its franchise only covers the San Carlos City to Escalante City route.

Lidawan said that the vehicle is plying the said route for 18 years already based on the statement of the operator.

“Wala naman daw reklamo, kasi dalawang jeep lang daw iyong nagbibiyahe doon,” he added.

But Lidawan said they will refer such case to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) so that the agency can review their franchise.

The jeepney driver was released from police custody on Saturday night after the lapse of the 18-hour reglementary detention.

However, a case for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, multiple injuries, and damage to properties will be filed against him on regular filing, Lidawan said.