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Among victims of Taal truck crash: A couple in a dying embrace


 

The piercing sound of metal being crushed woke her up just before 6 a.m., followed by the howl and scream of people just outside her home.

That’s when Grade 10 student Maryjane Atienza bolted out of bed and ran outside.

To her horror, the small eatery they own in front of their house along the diversion road in Brgy. Carsuche, Taal, Batangas is nowhere to be found, a ten wheeler truck replacing it instead.

Instinctively peering under the truck laden with tons of sugar cane, she saw an image she will never forget: her father pinned under the rubbles, half of his face gone.

Adjusting her eyes, she next saw her aunt Babylyn Atienza, half of her torso mangled beyond recognition. Babylyn just got married last Sunday.

Overwhelmed with emotion and her eyes full of tears, she failed to see her mother hidden from sight by the protective embrace of her father.

Witnesses say her father, Mel Atienza, the owner of the small eatery, was already running away from the rampaging ten wheeler truck when he quickly turned back.

His wife Jennifer was still inside.

With only a single entrance and exit, they never stood a chance.

Rescuers found Mel atop his wife in what they describe as a protective embrace.

In total, seven were killed in the worst accident in this part of the four lane diversion road. Four others sustained injuries.

Five of those killed were working for the eatery, the rest were customers.

A witness, who was about to enter the eatery, said he saw a ten-wheeler truck hit another ten-wheeler truck laden with sugarcane parked thirty meters away.

Seeing the two trucks heading his way, he quickly ran away. He escaped unhurt.

His car, parked near the eatery, was not so lucky.

It was hit, dragged and turned to its side by the impact of the runaway truck.

The truck driver, fearing the gathering crowd might go after him, ran away from the scene of the accident.

Later surfacing at the Taal Police Station, Alejandro Villena explained he was not aboard his truck when it suddenly rolled down the road.

The driver said he was parked further up the road to rest and have some coffee. Just before proceeding with his trip to deliver his load of sugarcane, Villena said he turned on his engine and got out to take a pee.

That's when the truck started rolling down the slightly sloping road towards the other ten wheeler truck.

The rest, he said, was a blur. In a fit of panic, he ran away.

But after talking to the owner of the truck, he said he decided to surrender. Apologizing for the lives hurt and lost, Villena says he is sorry for causing misery to the family of the victims.

Taal police say the truck's airbrakes were working and mechanics found no mechanical defect.

Taal Chief of Police C/Insp. Ricaredo Dalisay said they are planning to charge Villena with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple injuries and damage to property.

Maryjane Atienza and her older brother Meljay, meanwhile, say the incident has not fully sink in yet.

The last time they talked to their father was the day before the incident. He promised to take them to the baywalk for a long overdue family picture.

Her father hugged Maryjane before saying goodnight.

She never imagined that would be her last. —JST, GMA News

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