By ERWIN MASCARIÑAS
BUTUAN City – Some 15 people were rushed to the hospital here after the bus they were riding in plunged into a 50-meter deep ravine Thursday.
The bus, owned by Davao Metro Shuttle with body number 61907 and license plates NBD-1727, came from the town of La Paz in Agusan del Sur.
Senior M/Sgt. Jigger Ugalino of the Butuan City Police Station 4 said the accident happened along the highway section in Purok 3, Barangay De Oro here at around 12:30 pm.
The bus had 30 passengers, and half of them suffered injuries as the bus hit the bottom.
Ugalino said the driver, Merlo Fuentes Cutara, was talking to female passengers seated near him when he lost control of the bus.
The 43-year-old Cutara of Purok 1, Capricorn, Lasang, Davao City, could not be located at presstime. Police alleged that he fled.
Injured passenger Angel Catmoy, 72, said he was asleep when the bus plunged into the ravine; he said he woke up hearing passengers screaming.
Catmoy however said that before he fell asleep, he remembered that the bus was moving fast that some passengers asked the driver to slow down.
Arnel Maboloc, a carpenter at a furniture shop near the crash site, said the bus first crashed into a pile of soil beside the road, near the edge. Then the bus slowly fell, he said.
Maboloc said the bus overturned thrice before hitting the bottom.
“We froze for a few minutes before we could even move and help the passengers,” said Maboloc.