'A smell of burning rubber before bus fall'

Posted at 02/10/14 10:47 AM

MANILA - A survivor said he smelled burning rubber before the G.V. Florida bus he was riding fell off a ravine in Bontoc, Mountain Province last Friday.

Seminarian Melchor Suwaken said the bus had slowed down twice to pick up two women passengers as well as let off one elderly passenger.

He said passengers started smelling burning rubber inside the bus before the vehicle suddenly increased speed.

"Nangangamoy na yung brake sa loob. Sobrang baho na sa loob. By that time, nagtataka na kami bakit niya hindi binunggo sa side para at least hindi na kami abutin sa nangyari na yun," he said in an interview on ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.

"After na nangyari yung nagslow down, biglang nag accelerate yun. Bumilis yung takbo ng bus. Three curves ang nalampasan namin. At that time, yun na po. Tumilapon na kami sa baba. Naalis po yung roof," he added.

Suwaken said he was thrown off the bus and his foot got stuck in a rock, fracturing it.

He said he also passed out after seeing the dead bodies at the crash site.

"Hinimatay na ako nung nakita ko yung hiwalay na katawan," he said.

At least 15 people were killed in the bus crash including comedian Arvin "Tado" Jimenez, Solar News executive Bam Morillo and musician David Sicam.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has imposed a 30-day preventive suspension on the bus company.

Suwaken said there was no sign that the bus driver was sleepy during the trip. However, he blamed driver Edgar Renon for failing to heed their cries to ram the bus into the side of the mountain.

Renon perished in the bus crash.

Suwaken said he remains neutral about the LTFRB's decision to suspend the bus firm.

"Pwedeng suspendihin, pwedeng hindi naman. Neutral ako. Marami rin pong maaapektuhan yung mga pamilya nila," he said.

DAKILA spokesman Leni Velasco, a colleague of Jimenez, however, said the LTFRB should not lift the suspension order. She said the accident should serve as a lesson to bus companies to ensure that their units are in excellent working condition.

LTFRB chief Winston Ginez earlier said GV Florida Transport took over the Manila-Sagada-Bontoc route of Mt. Province Cable Tours.