MEA CULPA — Driver Blames Self for Death of 14 Passengers

The driver of the ill-fated company van that figured in a bloody smashup with a 10-wheeler truck admitted he was speeding at the time of the accident.

Now in police custody, van driver Theodoro Batiocan also admitted he overshot into the opposite lane, running smack into the truck from the opposite direction.

The death toll has been raised to 14 on the bloody road incident in Barangay Astorga, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur on Sunday afternoon. This was confirmed by the Sta. Cruz Municipal Police Station on Monday.

The recent addition on the list of fatalities was Ariel Entero Caña who died at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) due to fatal injuries on Sunday evening.

Those who died on the spot in the road mishap were identified as Jonathan Dadong, Nina Itchon, Jayson Tusan, Recmar Bautista, Maria Fe Regino, Roy Plenos Itchon, Joel Cedeno, Durson Adlog, Rannie Cabal, Alfredo Beringuel, Vicente Sanico, and an unidentified male person.

Ron Gie Rada, the 13th fatality, was declared dead on arrival at the Digos Provincial Hospital. The injured victims identified as Efren Presores, driver of the utility van, Abenjie Lumanta and Aixa Puna were transferred to SPMC from the Provincial Hospital. Sta. Cruz Municipal Police Station commander Sr. Insp. Mary Grace Martinez said in a radio interview that her investigators already got the statement of Presores.

Martinez said that the driver of the van admitted the he sped-off when the accident happened at the national highway of Sitio Lantawan, Barangay Astorga involving a 10-wheeler truck driven by Theodoro Batiocan which resulted to the death of the majority of his passengers.

In its initial investigation, the van was northbound going to Davao City when the driver was reportedly speeding at the curve, causing him to overshoot his lane and hit the truck, which was heading towards the poblacion area in Sta Cruz. The driver of the truck is still under police custody.