By Alex P. Vidal
WE join the Department of Education (DepEd) community in Iloilo City in mourning the macabre deaths of couple Joe Marie Osano and his wife Alnie Dinah, who were hit by a speeding white Mazda MX5 sports car driven by 32-year-old balikbayan, June Paul Valencia, while crossing the pedestrian lane along Diversion Road in Mandurriao district at around six o’clock in the morning on June 15.
Freak accidents like what happened in the Diversion Road normally happen if:
-the driver is under the influence of alcohol or illegal substance;
-there is zero visibility caused by a bad weather;
-the car is overspeeding and tries to beat the red light;
-the speeding car loses its brake;
-the speeding car’s driver is inexperienced;
-the pedestrians, in this case the victims, commit a jaywaking or run across the highway without noticing an onrushing wayward vehicle;
-both the pedestrians and speeding vehicle are caught in an awkward circumstance and get waylaid by an emergency firetruck, patrol car, or ambulance.
Based on eyewitness accounts and initial police investigations, the bloody mishap occurred after Valenica’s car overtook a pick-up truck driven by Allan Calunsod.
Osano, 45, principal of La Paz II Elementary School, was dragged by the killer car several meters from the pedestrian lane, while Dinah, 36, a teacher at Ticud (La Paz) Elementary School, was flown away.
They both suffered serious body and head injuries and were declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
Valencia, who surrendered after the mishap, was able to post a bail of P60,000 for his temporary freedom.
Police charged him with reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property and double homicide.
Grief and sorrows almost became endless in the educational and sports institutions where the couple belonged.
Social media were immediately flooded with stories that chronicled the kind of life they lived and how they were hailed by their co-workers, students, and their community.
Truly, based on how their colleagues and loved ones lament their “untimely” loss, they have left a vacuum no one among their ilk can fill in immediately.
They were “too young to die,” their co-teachers sobbed.
“They were active sports enthusiasts and role models in physical education,” bemoaned city officials led by Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa and congresswoman-elect Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda, who had a chance to work with the couple in various community-based projects.
The shocking accident prompted city officials to call for reforms in the traffic system and to hack out “long-term solutions” and safety measures in order to avert a similar mishap in the future.
Among those being proposed by incoming mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas in a recent meeting with officials of the city’s Public Safety and Transportation and Management Office (PSTMO) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Iloilo City District Engineering Office, were: closing of the U-turn where the mishap happened; and putting up of grills from the area where the accident occurred up to SM City Iloilo to prevent pedestrians from crossing the avenue.
They are also eyeing the placing of rumble strips a few meters before and after pedestrian lanes.
Also, all traffic aides will be asked to do the following: guide joggers at the Iloilo Esplanade; report for work at five o’clock in the morning instead of the current eight o’clock in the morning; assist all pedestrian lanes on the avenue.
City Hall is also calling for strict enforcement of the 60 kph speed limit; violators will be arrested and penalized; and jaywalkers will be apprehended and fined.
We only hope that all these “reforms”, reinforcement and revitalization of old traffic ordinances and guidelines won’t end up as a ningas cogon and forgotten after several months.
The pedestrians, on the other hand, must not be punished as a result of one bloody mishap no one had wanted to happen.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)