Raps filed vs. van driver for death of students

DUMAGUETE CITY — Charges have been filed over the weekend against the driver of a van-for-hire that figured in a tragic road collision in Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental that left six students dead and several other passengers injured.

The driver, Jaypee Sara Sarad, 29, of Dauin, Negros Oriental, was formally charged for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides on Saturday morning before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Dumaguete City, said MSgt. Janice Eluna, investigator assigned to the Zamboanguita Police Station on Monday.

She said another charge for reckless imprudence resulting to serious physical injuries will also be filed against the driver.

Sarad was driving a Toyota van with 15 passengers from Dumaguete City and bound for Basay south of the province when it collided with a cargo truck around 6:20 a.m. along the national highway in Barangay Mayabon, Zamboanguita.

The six fatalities were identified as twin sisters Cherry Rose and Cherry Ann Cadusale, both 17 years old; Kevin Aguilar, 14; Christian Buenconsejo, 17; Josua Busmeon, 18, all of the Basay National High School, and Nhemrose Alberto Gomez, 21, a college student of the Negros Oriental State University in Dumaguete City who hails from Bindoy, Negros Oriental.

The other passengers who sustained serious physical injuries were James A. Bagarinao, 18; John Mark F. Prestin, 26, a teacher/coach from Bayawan City; Elmar Toquero, 17; Justine Generoso, 18; Willie CJ Chua, 17; Jessie May Cabanal, all of the Basay National High School; and Gerlyn Eve Tabujara, 28, a teacher of the Nagbalaye Elementary School in Sta. Catalina town; Laurence Remolino Villaver, 39, a former Overseas Filipino Worker residing in Banga, Bayawan City; and Vanessa Balsomo Ybañez, 24, a student of the STI College in Dumaguete City.

Bagarinao and Generoso remain in critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit of the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital while some of the survivors are also still admitted at the Silliman University Medical Center, Eluna said.

The bodies of the Basay National High School students were already brought to their hometown during the weekend, while the family of the other fatality, Nhemrose Gomez, also claimed her remains, Eluna added.

Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones visited the wake of the students at a funeral home in this capital city on Saturday and condoled with the families and gave financial assistance to them.

Meanwhile, further investigation revealed that the driver took a call on his mobile phone prior to the road accident, the Zamboanguita police investigator disclosed.

The driver had admitted that after he ended the call, he overtook a motorcycle. He then lost control of the vehicle on the slippery road, Eluna said.

Truck driver, Elpedio de los Santos, Jr., recounted that he slowed down almost to a stop after he saw the oncoming van moving in a zigzag pattern before it crossed lanes and slammed into the truck.

De los Santos, Jr. has been released from police custody and will stand as witness to the case against Sarad, she added. Mary Judaline Partlow /PNA – northboundasia.com