Ryan Brecia, a passenger of the Don Mariano Transit bus that plunged from the elevated Skyway on Monday, said a last-minute seat switch saved him from certain death.
Brecia, who was on his way to work in Muntinlupa City, said he boarded the bus and took a seat on the right side.
Minutes before the accident, he transferred to a left-side seat. He said many of those who died were seated on the right side.
"It was a miracle. I was seated near the bus conductor and I decided to switch seat before the bus plunged," said Brecia in Filipino.
He suffered bruises and minor injuries on his right arm and chest.
Brecia said he crawled out of the window because he was afraid that the bus would explode.
He said that even before they reached the Skyway, the bus driver was already speeding. Brecia recalled that the driver had a hard time controlling the wheel because the bus was travelling so fast and the road was made slippery by the light rain.
"Then suddenly it rammed the Skyway railings and plunged onto a passing van," he said.
Brecia said he was not sure if the driver was drunk or sleepy.
Irene Sisperez, who was driving on the Skyway, said the speeding bus passed her just before it plunged off.
"Nag-overtake sa akin ang Don Mariano bus. Nagku-kwentuhan kami ng anak ko. Sabi ko tingnan mo itong bus na ito hindi marunong sumunod. Ang speed ko 80 [kph] eh, nag-overtake siya sa akin so ang estimate namin 100 to 110 kph [ang bilis niya]," she said in a radio interview.
"Ilang meters pa lang, nakita ko biglang nahulog ang bus. Walang ibang sasakyan, ako lang talaga ang nasa likod niya eh," Sisperez said.
She reported the incident when she reached the toll booth.
The wife of bus driver Carmelo Calatcat, 39, was inconsolable upon learning that her husband was fighting for life.
"She was crying non-stop when we informed her," said Ronnie Laguis, 30, Calatcat's brother-in-law said.
Laguis said he has yet to see Calatcat. "We are not allowed to get near him. He is in intensive care unit."
He said Calatcat has four children, the eldest a fifth grader. He added that Calatcat's wife, Ladylyn, 33, is praying that her husband will survive because he is the sole family provider.
Ladylyn lives in Dumaguete with her four kids. Calatcat, a bus driver for five years, stays with his relatives in Novaliches, Quezon City.
At least ten survivors, including Calatcat, were rushed to the Paranaque Doctors' Hospital.
Two of the survivors are in critical condition-Calatcat and Rolando Valeroy, who was unable to talk.
The other victims who were taken to the Paranaque Doctors' Hospital were Gilbert Montallana, 30, driver of an Elf van which also figured in the accident; Pepe Padilla, 54; Vengie Agbunag, 30, of Novaliches; Eric Balandia, 46, of Pandacan Manila; Ofelia Esneu, 54, of Batasan Hills, Quezon City; Fernando Talado, 38, of Novaliches; Dionisio Tasana, 40, of Antipolo City and Rebecca Tolentino, 43, of San Mateo, Rizal. Tolentino was discharged last night.
Jorge Zamora And Jaime R. Pilapil
Copyright 2013 - The Manila Times, Philippines