LA TRINIDAD, Benguet: Thirteen people, including 12 students from Poblacion National High School, were killed and four more were injured when the Ford Fiera they were riding plunged into a 300-meter ravine in Barangay Bangbangayen in Buguias town on Tuesday afternoon.
Police chief Senior Insp. Ferdinand Botengan identified the fatalities as Efren Dalisdis, the driver of the vehicle, and passengers Jera Falir Mayao, 15; Maricel Basatan, 13; Jera Madiano, 15; Jeribeth Simeon, 12; Jasmin Lestino, 15; Nenerva Menzi, 16; Angie Aguien, 15; Meljoy Agustin, 15; Ivonne Bestre, 13; John Ray Dalisdis, 16; and Mari Faith Lamsis, 16.
Injured and recuperating at the Lutheran Hospital in Abatan were Reyshan Latuwed, 18; Charee Bestre, 15; Jame-rose Bankin, 15; and Elejoy Agyapas, 17.
Dalisdis and seven students were killed on the spot while four others died on the way to the hospital. Another victim, a 15 year-old female, died the next day while being treated.
Benguet Gov. Nestor Fong-wan urged Cordillera police and traffic enforcers to find ways to prevent similar accidents in the province.
“We will meet with provincial director Rodolfo Azurin as well as operators of public transport groups,” said Fongwan.
Initial investigation showed that the elder Dalisdis was fetching his son John Ray when some of his son’s schoolmates asked for a ride on the way to Barangay Amlimay.
Witnesses said that the when the students got off, the engine stalled causing the vehicle to move backward until it reached the end of the cliff.
Meanwhile, a passenger van fell into a ravine in Sitio Calot, Barangay Banangan in Sablan town on Monday, leaving one dead and 16 others injured.
Previously, Fongwan was bent on having road safety briefings in a bid to thwart accidents.
Fongwan said the road safety has been an issue in the province with the terrain of highland roads filled with sharp curves and ravines needing extra precaution from drivers.
Last year, another Ford Fiera fell into a 80-meter ravine in Barangay Bayoyo in Buguias, killing 13 people.
WITH REPORTS FROM LARRY MADARANG