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ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – What was supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year ended in tragedy for five children in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, after a drunk driver plowed into them just outside the church three days before Christmas, on December 22.
On Monday, December 25, police captain Sherwin Beroña, deputy chief of Bantay police station, said in an interview with GMA regional TV that three of the victims – boys ages 11, 13, and 16 – were in an intensive care unit at a local hospital.
They sustained a range of body injuries, which included head trauma, leg fracture, and abrasions. One of them was in a coma, the police said.
Two other victims – girls ages 6 and 8 – were being treated in the same hospital’s pediatric ward.
Beroña said the 51-year-old who was driving the car on a national highway traversing Guimod village in Bantay was under the influence of liquor.
The police said that two of the five victims are siblings, and all of them were bystanders outside a chapel along the highway. There were others on the sidewalk who attended a Christmas night mass at the chapel.
The mass just ended when church-goers reportedly heard the loud thud of a crashing vehicle.
A viral footage of the accident circulating on social media showed a horrifying scene: screaming pedestrians trying to identify the victims, and the minors who lay bleeding on the sidewalk, with one of them dragged under the vehicle.
Vhaliant Angelo Baptista, who captured the footage, described the scene as complete chaos.
At the time of the accident, Baptista was on scooter heading to nearby Vigan City to join the Capitol’sChristmas celebration. “I think I was about 500 meters away from the accident area,” he told Rappler on Tuesday, December 26.
“I was so shocked, everything happened so fast. After that, I just saw a flash of light, then I saw people running here and there. When I approached the accident area, I saw the victims laying around,” he recalled in Filipino.
Police said that the driver was traveling alone on a Tamaraw FX to Sto. Domingo town in Ilocos Sur after attending a reunion event in his home province of Abra.
Citing the account of attending doctors, Beroña confirmed that the driver was drunk during the accident.
“Our investigation shows the driver was drunk and fell asleep,” Beroña said. The driver sustained wounds but was declared to be in a safe condition. – Rappler.com