A car crashed and caught fire early Sunday morning along a main road in Tagaytay, and all six passengers perished. According to GMA News, all six victims were minors who didn't have driver's licenses. The casualties were identified in the report as John Russel Garcia, 15; John Paul Tena, 15; Kirby Bokingo, 16; Jaymee Gubaton, 16; Lauren Bren Calabines (driver), 16; and Rodalyn Bautista, 17.
The car was a Toyota Vios with plate number AHA-5287.
Here's the interesting part. In this report by Philippine Star, Cavite police director Sr. Supt. Eliseo Cruz was quoted as saying "elements of the Silang Police Community Precinct, who were first on the scene, together with officials of Barangay San Jose and the Tagaytay rescue team, tried to rescue the passengers but the car exploded."
However, a person by the name of Den Castillo, who claims to be a witness at the scene, debunks that statement. The photo above came from her, proving that there was nobody responding to the victims when she and her companions arrived. Here is her narration of the events--which she calls "the real story behind the Tagaytay accident"--that unfolded before her in the wee hours of January 17 (in italics and largely unedited save for a few punctuation corrections for clarity's sake):
We were in Tagaytay last 17 January 2016. Last stop namin was in Starbucks (Leslie's). At around 2:50am, when we were heading back to Manila, we passed by Starbucks Highway (yung may matarik na daan). We noticed a car burning on the side of the road, which happened to crash on a tree. Walang tao sa daan so mapapansin talaga.
Amusing at first dahil parang sa pelikula, until my friends and siblings (we were six in total) noticed that there was someone inside the car. May tao pa sa loob ng umaapoy na kotse, and she was still trying to move her head out of the window. And this scenario got us alarmed because NO ONE WAS IN THE AREA TRYING TO AT LEAST EASE OUT THE FIRE.
Bumaba kami agad and asked people (2 men) from outside of Discovery Suites for help. Nakatawag na raw ng rescue, and I saw them setting up a hose pero masyadong maikli ang hose at may isang timba lang silang pinupunuan ng tubig. There was another team of witnesses who were there (more on their statements later). It was saddening cos kung hindi pa kami bumaba at nagcommand sa mga tao, parang walang kikilos. But then I saw a group of men sa may gilid ng Starbucks setting up a hose (this one mahaba na pero maliit, yung pandilig lang ng halaman). I shouted, “Kuya, double time tayo!”
So I went down to ask for a fire extinguisher from Starbucks, and they told me “UBOS NA PO.” That’s the time naka-set up na yung hose so hinatak na namin pataas and started to ease out the fire. Medyo mahina yung tubig from the hose at may ilan-ilang butas pa. I asked for a sandbox/bag, wala raw silang ganun. Pero continuous yung pag-igib ng tubig sa timba at may isang lalaki (from the other team of witnesses) na nakakuha ng fire extinguisher pero hindi na kinaya dahil malaki na at that point yung apoy.
Since then lang dumami yung taong nasa palagid, and most were like: “Wala na yan, patay na yan.” And we were: “NOOOOO!! GUMAGALAW PA. SUMISIGAW PA DAW KANINA. GAWA NG PARAAN." Wala na kaming ibang nakitang tao sa loob ng kotse kundi yung babaeng sinusubukang ilabas yung ulo sa bintana (katabi sya ng driver).
Ang tagal ng rescue. Ilang minutes na kaming nag-aapula ng apoy, wala parin. Di namin maalis yung babae (although sya rin yung main na binubuhusan ng tubig), but we really wanted to kaso sobrang laki na rin ng apoy at habang tumatagal, kinakain na ng apoy yung buong kotse. I got really disappointed by this because in the end, we were as helpless as the people inside.
And what’s more disappointing are the statements we got from the other team of witnesses (they were 3 in total):
1. OVERSPEEDING NGA RAW. WALA PANG APOY YUNG KOTSE NOONG BUMANGGA AT MAY PULIS NA PERO NILAYASAN. Why? Because (NADULAS YUNG PULIS NA) PERSONAL PA SILANG NAGREPORT SA MGA KASAMA NILA. (BAKIT KELANGAN PERSONAL? INIWAN NILA YUNG ACCIDENT SCENE, NAKA-MOBILE SILA. WALA MAN LANG RADYO? CELLPHONE?) THEY COULD’VE CALLED FOR MORE PEOPLE/RESOURCES TO HELP MULA NOONG UMAPOY. SANA NAAGAPAN PA.
2. ONE MEMBER OF THE WITNESSES IS A NURSE. HINDI NILA INALISAN YUNG ACCIDENT SCENE KAYA PAGDATING NAMIN DOON, ANDUN NA SILA. We were told that SHE TRIED TO HELP THE VICTIM (THE GIRL AT LEAST) KASI NARINIG PA NILANG SUMISIGAW AT HUMIHINGI NG TULONG. BUT THE PEOPLE NA NAKIKIUSYOSO AT THAT TIME, MOBBED HER AND SAID “MAG-ANTAY NG AUTHORITY.” She felt wala siyang laban kaya dinismiss niya yung thought tsaka nahirapan na silang buksan yung pinto, until ayun, simula nang umapoy.
Sadly, yung mga usyosong yun, umalis rin nung umapoy na yung kotse. Napulsuhan niya (nurse) pa yung driver, wala na raw. We weren’t informed na 6 yung nasa loob; ang alam lang namin 2. Dismayadong-dismayado si Ate Nurse (at kami rin) dahil ang tagal daw talaga ng response team. Dumating sila na “MERON PA (BUHAY AT PAG-ASA),” umuwi kaming lahat na “WALA NA.”
This was the most disappointing case I have seen so far cos we tried to help (kaming mga passersby pa, wala talagang pulis sa area--dumating man sila, malaki na yung apoy so hindi IMMEDIATE RESPONSE yun tulad ng nasa balita.) And disturbing cos in the end, wala kaming nagawa. Mahirap rin kalaban ang apoy, mahirap kalaban ang oras, mahirap kalaban ang mabagal na rescue.
May I just say that it is traumatizing to see someone alive--moving (and shouting as we were told)--suddenly taken away by the fire. Kung sa simpleng French fries nga na nahulog sa tray, nakakapanghinayang hindi isalba, ito pa kaya. BUHAY ITO NG TAO. Mabigat...sobrang bigat. Our hearts are still in deep sorrow, and we extend our condolences to the family of the six. And I hope that this truth will reach you.
We have been reading news articles about the incident, and saw discrepancies from the real story. So ano ang ipinaglalaban ng post na ito? Shout-out sa mga pulis na nagsabing IMMEDIATE RESPONSE. Hiyang-hiya po ako sa pagka-immediate ng pag-iwan niyo sa mga biktima. May mga barangay officials raw na RUMESPONDE. Paki-clarify po ang part na ito dahil wala naman yata kaming nakasamang barangay officials, unless yung Team Hose mula sa gilid ng Starbucks ay sila. Pero I doubt it (I think they were from Discovery Suites).
Sa mga mob na against kay Ate Nurse, may you sleep well every night. NAKALIGTAS PA SANA KAYO NG BUHAY NG TAO. Di ko masisi yung rescuers COS THEY DID THEIR BEST BUT still, more than 30 minutes na ganun na ang eksena, wala pa ring tulong. Kung malayo ang pinanggalingan, e sana magawaan ng paraan ito sa susunod since mahirap nga talaga magkaron ng aksidente sa highway. Pero madaling-araw yun, wala namang traffic. HINDI SUMABOG YUNG KOTSE, UMAPOY LANG (KUNG SUMABOG YON, DI KO NA NA-POST ITO).
Wag tayong magpabango sa media. Walang makakaamoy nyan. Aalingasaw ang katotohanan. AND UNDOUBTEDLY, THE WORST PART WAS THAT THE GIRL WAS ALIVE. PLEASE PRAY FOR THEIR SOULS. GOD BLESS EVERYONE. MAG-INGAT SA DAAN.
Photo from Den Castillo