Skyway bus accident kills 3; 'strong wind' blamed

By David Dizon,

Posted at Jul 26 2011 11:34 AM | Updated as of Jul 27 2011 01:26 AM

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Three people were killed while 4 others were injured after a passenger bus fell off the Skyway at the South Luzon Expressway around 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The Dimples Star Transport bus with body number 7511 was on its way to Alabang when it fell off the Skyway southbound lane and crashed 40 feet below onto the service road right before the Sucat exit.

Rescuers immediately extricated the victims and brought them to 2 hospitals.

Bus driver Hustol Juven Pampilon died at exactly 12:20 p.m. while passengers Anthony Abarra, 21, of San Pedro, Laguna, and Lorenzo Gabu of Antipolo died in the afternoon.

Rustico Jimenez, Parañaque Medical Center director, said Pampilon died of massive bleeding and trauma to the abdomen. Abarra died due to massive trauma to the head and a broken right hip.

Three other passengers -- Rene Mendez, 40; Geraldo Fisco, 37; and Katherine Josol, 30 - are at South Superhighway Hospital. 

Bus conductor Jonathan Alebar had the least number of injuries but still underwent treatment at the Parañaque Medical Center.

View from the Skyway over the wreckage of Dimple Star Bus that plunged 30 feet down to South Luzon Expressway in Sucat, Paranaque Tuesday morning where eight people were hurt.
Photo by Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Strong wind or speeding?

Alebar, meanwhile, told ABS-CBN  Correspondent Sol Aragones that their trip was uneventful until a "strong wind" hit the bus as it was nearing the Sucat exit of the elevated highway.

He said the driver had difficulty controlling the wheel until the bus fell off the Skyway.

However, a separate dzMM report by correspondent Dennis Datu said the bus was slightly speeding and had tried to swerve after being overtaken by another vehicle.

It quoted SPO2 Sid Dumlao of the Highway Patrol Group as saying that the slippery road and the strong rain prevented the driver from seeing the road, causing the vehicle to crash and fall off the elevated highway.

Alebar said he does not know if there was another vehicle involved in the incident since he felt traumatized by the fall. The bus conductor said he was able to crawl out of the wreckage after one of the bus windows got smashed.

CCTV footage

Skyway vice president for operations Ed Nepomuceno, meanwhile, said they have CCTV footage of how the bus fell off the Skyway.

Victims of the accident said they plan to file a lawsuit against the bus operator.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has suspended Dimples Star Transport for 30 days pending a full investigation of the incident. The LTFRB issued a show cause order to the bus firm, asking why the operator's franchise should not be cancelled.

Meantime, Malacañang said the franchise of the bus company reported in today’s accident should be reviewed.
“The President is very, very displeased whenever he hears bus accidents. As common carriers, they have extraordinary diligence to protect the riding public. Ito po ay isang nakakainis na balita lalo na kung nalalaman natin na hindi pala inaalagaan o mine-maintain ang kanilang bus. Kung pera lang ang nananaig sa kanila instead of making sure the safety of the riding public is the first consideration, then I think we should seriously reconsider the franchises of these buses which have incurred a number of accidents,” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.