Poe pitches National Transportation Safety Board as 20 die in La Union road crash

December 26, 2017 - 6:48 AM
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The private jeepney was a total wreck after it crashed head-on with a Partas bus on the national highway in La Union on Christmas dawn. HANDOUT PHOTO FROM LTFRB

MANILA – Now more than ever, the country needs a National Transportation Safety Board to investigate and closely monitor till their resolution serious cases of accidents in order to prevent a repeat of the failings that result in so much loss of life, livelihood and property.

Sen. Grace Poe made this pitch for an NTSB after 20 people died and 26 others were injured in a road crash involving a Partas bus and a jeepney bearing church-goers on the national highway in Agoo, La Union, at dawn of Christmas Day.

At the same time, Poe called on authorities to speed up a comprehensive investigation into what really happened, and ensure full assistance to the injured, many of them still in hospital, and families of the dead.

“We are deeply saddened by the deaths and injuries of passengers in the road tragedy in La Union,” Poe said in a statement on Christmas evening.

Nineteen persons including children and a five-month-old baby were confirmed to have died on the spot, while 26 were injured in the Christmas Day road accident along the national highway in San Jose village in Agoo around 3:30 a.m. Monday, police said.

The number of fatalities rose to 20 as another victim died in the hospital, according to unconfirmed reports.

Chief Inspector Roy Villanueva, Agoo police chief, said the fatalities, all passengers of a jeepney, were from Barangay Pilar, Bauang, La Union and were on their way to Manaoag, Pangasinan.

The south-bound jeepney, loaded with 29 passengers – mostly members of a family and their relatives – allegedly tried to overtake another vehicle but miscalculated the distance of a speeding Partas bus coming from the opposite direction.

The jeepney driver, Rolando Perez, 34, of Bauang La Union, and 18 of the jeepney passengers died on the spot.

The Partas bus driver, Rodel Salac, 43, was unharmed.

Reports said 10 of the 26 injured were from the ill-fated jeepney while the rest were from the Partas bus.

Senior Inspector Eugene Balagot, Deputy Chief of Agoo Police Station, said in a radio interview that the victims, after celebrating Christmas eve with relatives in Bauang town, decided to go to the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan to hear Christmas Mass.

The jeep was totally wrecked from the impact of the collision while the bus incurred damage.

The fatalities and injured victims were brought to the Family Hospital and La Union Medical Center, both in Agoo town.