Update on the 12 Pilgrims killed on bus accident

This is an update on the 12 Pilgrims killed on bus accident taken from the Manila Bulletin issue last Monday, March 18,2010.

PUGO, La Union – Twelve Holy Week pilgrims were killed while 41 others were seriously injured when their bus apparently lost its brakes and slammed into a tree while descending Marcos Highway in Barangay Palina here early Saturday night.

Police said the pilgrims were all from Sta. Rosa City in Laguna and were on their way home after a day-long visit of several churches in Baguio City as part of the Lenten Season tradition of “visita iglesia”.

Eight of the fatalities reportedly died on the spot while the four others expired while undergoing treatment at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

The ill-fated PJM Love Bus with license plate RHE 316 was part of a convoy of six tourist buses carrying pilgrims from Barangays Balibago, San Lorenzo and Malitlit in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Chief Insp. Jacinto Lipaen, Pugo police chief, identified the fatalities as Lydia Martin, 60; Ynes Banes, 34; Warlito Pastera Sayuco; Luisa Sarmiento Gasapos; Pamela Tanya Africa; Eleuteria delejos Reyes; Liberia delejos Reyes; Michael delejos Reyes; Mercideta delejos Reyes; Isabelita delejos Reyes; Idabelita Aya; and Virginia Ocampo.

The devotees arrived in Baguio City around 7 a.m. Saturday and embarked on a day-long visitation of several churches in the pine city. They started their journey back to Laguna at 5 p.m. through Marcos Highway, now called the Aspiras-Palispis Highway.

According to Lipaen, when the convoy reached Barangay Palina in Pugo, the ill-fated vehicle overtook two other buses that reportedly suffered from mechanical trouble and were undergoing repair along the shoulder of the road.

Witnesses told investigators that they smelled burning rubber while the bus was negotiating a sharp curve at full speed and, shortly after, the vehicle rammed an acacia tree planted on the side of the road.

The strong impact of the collision shattered the front panel of the bus, throwing off many of its passengers outside and killing eight of the victims instantly.

Eighteen of the injured individuals were rushed to the BGHMC where four other victims died while undergoing treatment.

The bus driver, Silvestre Binay Jr., survived and was confined at the La Union Medical Center in Agoo, La Union while another still unidentified male person was rushed to the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center in San Fernando City, La Union.

Lipaen ordered investigators to conduct an in-depth probe to determine the real cause of the accident so that appropriate charges could be filed against those responsible.

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