By NITZ ARANCON
and JIGGER JERUSALEM
THREE young police officers died while at least 17 others were hurt, including civilians, when the driver of a truck they were riding lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree at Mountain Meadows in upper Gusa at around 11 am yesterday.
Agora police chief Maj. Julius Macariola IV identified the fatalities as patrolmen Rogie Perpetua Bulay, Elbert Sheen Taping Labra and Aldred Fernandez Catane. All had been undergoing training for new police officers, and assigned at the Regional Mobile Force Battalion of the National Police.
The police recruits are from the Regional Mobile Force Battalion of the Philippine National Police-10 (PNP-10) based in Indahag.
Macariola said Bulay died on the spot while Labra was pronounced dead on arrival at the Capitol University Medical City (CUMC).
A third victim, Catane, died at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) at around 1:48 pm.
Macariola said 15 of those injured were police trainees. The remaining two are truck driver Johnny Ehong and his aide. Some were rushed to the CUMC while others were brought to the NMMC.
The police trainees were riding an Isuzu Canter truck that was heading to Camp Evangelista in Barangay Patag from the National Police’s Regional Training Center in upper Gusa.
They were instructed to deliver lumber and used tires to the Army camp from their training camp near the boundaries of Indahag and upper Gusa. Macariola said the lumber and discarded tires were intended for the regional police riders’ training.
Lt. Col. Mardy Hortillosa, city police spokesperson, confirmed that the materials the truck was carrying were to be used for the police’s motorcycle riding course.
Hortillosa, one of those who participated in the riding course, said they requested the police recruits to haul the tires and lumber.
“It’s just unfortunate that it happened to them,” Hortillosa said.
Macariola said the truck’s brakes malfunctioned and the driver lost control of the truck while he was negotiating a steep road in upper Gusa, and then the vehicle rammed through the gate of a private property before crashing into a tree.
Macariola said many of the passengers were thrown off the truck due to the impact of the speeding vehicle. Others were hit by the falling tires and lumber from the vehicle.
“The survivors are out of danger but they are still under observation,” Macariola said.
Authorities have yet to release the full names of the other victims pending notification of their families and relatives.
Bobby Sigla, a guard who witnessed the accident, said he saw the private property’s gate torn open by the speeding truck.
“I heard a loud sound. The next I saw there were people lying on the road. I rushed in to help,” Sigla said.