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Superlines bus driver maintains innocence in crash.

Byline: Delfin T. Mallari Jr.

ATIMONAN -- The driver of the ill-fated Bicol-bound Superlines passenger bus that was involved in the multiple-vehicle collision here on Saturday expressed his sympathies to the families of the victims but maintained that he was not to blame for the accident that killed 20 persons and injured more than 50 others.

"I'm also one of the victims. I'm not the culprit here," Albert Nava, 48, told the Inquirer from his detention cell at the Atimonan police station on Monday.

Nava said he had met with the some of the victims' families when they came to the Atimonan police station to retrieve the personal belongings of the casualties.

"They even hugged me and said that I'm lucky because I am alive. But they did not blame me. They all understood that the accident was not my fault," Nava said.

Police investigation showed that the bus driven by Nava was hit from behind by a truck, causing his bus to collide with six other vehicles.

Senior Supt. Ronaldo Ylagan, Quezon police chief, however, said Nava was still to be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple serious physical injuries.

The case was filed Monday in the Quezon Provincial Prosecutor's Office in Lucena.

The driver of the truck that triggered the multiple collisions died in the incident.

Nava's wife, Marilou, who was with her husband during the interview, said she learned of the accident from neighbors and was initially told that he was in critical condition. "I became worried when I could not reach him through his cell phone so I rushed here. Thank God he is safe," she said.

Nava said he lost control after the wayward truck hit his bus from behind while they were both descending the zigzag portion of the diversion road on the Maharlika Highway in Barangay (village) Sta. Catalina here past 1 a.m. on Oct. 19.

"The bump from behind was too strong. It forced my vehicle to zoom fast downhill. I tried to control the wheel but the bus was turning around until it fell on its side," Nava recalled.

Nava said he was thrown out of the bus and landed in the muddy roadside. "When I heard the moans and cries for help, I immediately got up and helped my passengers," he said.

He said he had also intended to proceed to the Superlines main terminal in Atimonan town proper to report the incident, but he was held by the police. The Superlines bus company is owned by the Lavidez family of Atimonan.

The police report confirmed Nava's story as to the cause of the accident. Investigators found that the truck that hit the passenger bus from behind had suffered a mechanical failure, causing it to slam into the rear of the bus.

Aside from the truck driver, his two helpers were also killed. Fifteen of the fatalities were passengers of Nava's bus while the rest were from the other vehicles.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Oct 22, 2013
Words:494
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