By BENCYRUS ELLORIN
and JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
A CAGAYAN de Oro-bound bus with 28 people skidded on a slippery road before turning on its side and crashing, resulting in two deaths in Sitio Bagong Silang, barangay Impalutao, Impasug-ong town in Bukidnon, on Saturday.
Some 28 people were hurt in the accident.
A report from the Health Emergency Alert Reporting System (Hearts) of the Department of Health identified the fatalities as Marisol Marinay, 23, and Mary Joy Tubay, 20.
Marinay was a teacher from Barangay Kawayan, Impasugong, while Tubay was a student from Malaybalay City.
The bus, owned by Rural Transit Bus Inc. with body no. NAB 9471, swerved due to slippery road along the Sayre Highway at around 2 pm Saturday.
Torrential rains around that time left the highway very slippery and the area with poor visibility.
Rescue workers brought the injured to hospitals in Malaybalay, Bukidnon where Marinay was pronounced dead at the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital, and Tubay at the Bethel Baptist Hospital.
Police said the airconditioned bus was on the inner lane of the highway when another vehicle, a white van, ahead of it made a sudden stop after its driver saw an uneven portion of the road.
Police said that as the van ground to a halt, the bus driver, Leomerne Velarde, 41, stepped on the brake and veered toward the road’s outer lane to avoid a collision.
But Velarde lost control of the bus, and it turned on its side.
Jessie Boy Lentorio, RTMI branch manager, said the firm would shoulder the medical bills of those admitted to the hospitals, and it has extended financial assistance to the families of those who died.
He said only two passengers have remained under hospital treatment at presstime.
Lentorio said the RTMI management gave P200,000 each to the Marinay and Tubay families as initial cash compensation.
He, however, did not divulge the total amount that the aggrieved parties wouldl be receiving from the bus company.
“The RTMI is ready to help its passengers in accidents such as this,” he said.
Jay Galindo, RTMI operations manager, said Velarde did his best in that situation even though it was the van which overtook the bus moments before it stopped, causing the bus to swerve to avoid ramming it.
Galindo said the slippery road was also a factor in the accident since the bus was traveling at a slow speed.
“Based on our monitoring, that bus was traveling at 50 kilometers per hour,” Galindo said, adding that this was based on its real-time tracking of its hundreds of fleet plying the highways all over Mindanao using the global positioning system.
That part of the road, he said, was a known accident-prone zone among motorists who are traversing the Sayre highway.
Due to the impact of the bus’ turning to its side, the glass windows were shattered, and threw Marinay and Tubay out of their seats.
Galindo said he and other managers from the RTMI personally went to visit those injured and the families of the dead.