6 dead, 5 injured in Tagum highway accident

TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte (MindaNews/27 Jan) – Six people died while five others were injured when a drunk Forward truck driver rammed his vehicle into a passenger Multicab along the highway here this afternoon, police said.

The force of impact threw both vehicles into the 15-meter wide canal beside the highway, causing many of the passengers of the Multicab with plate number PWL 762 to drown, according to Sr. Inspector Angelito de Castro of the Tagum police. He added that at least three bodies were found under the half-submerged Multicab.

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He said the Multicab stopped in Barangay Bincungan to allow a passenger to alight when the truck with plate number WTD 102 rammed the passenger vehicle from the rear. The truck’s driver, whom police said was drunk, was identified as Alvin Galon Paguy of Matina Aplaya, Davao City.

De Castro said it took almost an hour before heavy equipment from the Tagum local government arrived at the scene to help in the recovery efforts.

A team of soldiers traveling from Pantukan town, where a military exercise was held, was among the first to get onsite.

Sgt. Gil Lozada, of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Civil Relations Service, said they were traveling in a convoy when they saw the truck erratically traversing the highway going in the direction of Davao City.

“We tried to overtake the truck because the driver was apparently asleep, but it rammed the Multicab before we could overtake it,” Lozada told MindaNews.

He said they stopped to help the passengers of the Multicab, which was already in the water.

“I took off my boots and dived into the water,” he said, adding that he was able to grab a hand but the man slowly slid into the deeper and murkier portion of the canal.

Fearing he too would drown, Lozada let go of the hand and searched for more passengers. He found three passengers – two men and a woman – pinned inside the Multicab.

Dr. Camella de los Reyes, of the Tagum Doctors Hospital where some of the passengers were brought, said many of the victims suffered severe head wounds resulting to their death. Four of the five passengers brought there expired even before reaching the hospital.

De los Reyes identified the fatalities as Anastacio Soriano, 75, and his wife, Pacita, 74, both residents of Barangay Busaon, Tagum City; Agustin Suaybaguio, 70; and a still unidentified woman in her 60s.

She said a still unidentified woman was still fighting for her life.

Six of the victims were brought to the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City. Two died even before reaching the hospital.

PO2 Noel Cartalaba, Tagum police traffic investigator, said the truck driver was arrested immediately after the accident.

“It was obvious he was driving under the influence of liquor. He smell of alcohol,” Cartalaba said.

Nando Oros, the Multicab driver, said he did not notice the wayward truck driving when he pulled over to allow a passenger to disembark.

“I heard a crash and the next thing I know we were already in the water,” he said.

Oros said he and 29-year-old Japet Baylosis, who was sitting beside him at the front seat, managed to get out from the water. They both helped in pulling out the injured passengers. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)