A FULLY-PACKED truck fell down a deep ravine in Conner, Apayao on the eve of All Saints’ Day killing at least 19 of its passengers and injuring 22 others, police authorities said yesterday.
An initial investigation conducted by the Cordillera Police Regional Office showed that the victims were on their way to Rizal, Cagayan after getting corn seeds when the driver lost control of the vehicle while negotiating the slippery road in Sitio Karikitan in Barangay Gassud in Conner municipality around 7 p.m. Thursday.
Local police, military and civilian authorities rushed to the site to help retrieve the bodies of the dead and the wounded. The injured victims, many of them elderly farmers and villagers, as well as the bus driver were taken to local hospitals for treatment.
The fatalities include members of the Talay family, namely, Beverly, Brenda, Jason and Imelda; Rose and Ludalina Molina; Conrado Subatan, Claro Mamauag, Amparo Aberion, Domingo Asperela, Pacita Dajucon, Mercy Gundan, Leticia Patay, Reymundo Sosa, Rudy Pagtama, Margie Pamittan, Mamerto and Susan Milo and Fermelina Dacuycuy.
The eldest of the fatalities were Sosa and Mamauag both 79.
On the other hand, Subatan was 70-years old while Papittan and Asperela were both 66-years old.
Cordillera police director, Brigadier General Israel Ephraim T. Dickson said that initial information received by investigators from the Conner Municipal Police Station showed that the victims had just received cash assistance and farm seeds from the local government and were all heading home when they met the accident.
During an interview in his hospital bed, the truck driver claimed he lost control of the truck when its brakes malfunctioned while he was negotiating the highway under heavy rains. As a result, the vehicle went wayward and fell down the ravine where it tumbled several times before landing topside down.
The records of the vehicle is still being checked by the police with the Land Transportation Office as of press time.
Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group director Brig. Gen Dionardo B. Carlos ordered the Cordillera Regional Highway Patrol Unit to investigate the incident.
The deadly accident came in the wake of an appeal from authorities for all drivers to ensure the roadworthiness of their vehicles before traveling during Undas.