ORMOC CITY– Tragedy struck in Sta. Rita, Samar, as a barangay kagawad and a young female balikbayan lost their lives in a road accident last February 8.

The fatal incident occurred around 9:15 am along the national highway in Barangay Bagolibas.

The victims were identified as Joel Cabutin, the driver, a village councilor of Brgy. San Isidro, Pinabacdao, Samar, and his passenger Maria Mae Mendaño, 26, a balikbayan from Switzerland residing in Brgy. Parasanon, also in Pinabacdao.

The SUV involved, owned by the provincial government of Eastern Samar, was driven by Lynjun Catalo,42, a resident of Brgy. Songco, Borongan City.

According to Police Staff Sergeant Romualdo Paca-anas, the case investigator, both vehicles were traveling in opposite directions along the highway.

Cabutin and Mendaño were aboard a MotoPosh Motorcycle with a sidecar, heading from Tacloban City to Pinabacdao while the white Toyota Hilux SUV (Plate No. A8Q-922) was en route to Tacloban City.

Paca-anas said that as they approached Brgy. Bagolibas, the tricycle veered into the opposite lane due to a rough section of the road, coinciding with the SUV’s attempt to switch lanes to avoid another vehicle.

However, the tricycle returned to its original lane just as the SUV was changing lanes, resulting in a collision.

Following the impact, the SUV veered left and struck a parked single motorcycle (Suzuki Smash with Plate No. 132HNT) along the shoulder lane.

While the SUV’s driver and passenger sustained minor injuries and were taken to Basey District Hospital for treatment, Cabutin and Mendaño were pronounced dead at the scene by the rural health officer of Sta. Rita. (ROBERT DEJON)