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Bus firm in Jan. 4 NLEx mishap must be held liable

/ 12:02 AM January 13, 2015

Last Jan. 4, a bus owned by First North Luzon Transit Inc. (FNLT, a subsidiary of Victory Liner) smashed into the back of our Hyundai Starex van, while cruising the southbound lane of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) near Apalit, Pampanga. Inside were my parents, Rene and Fortune Ledesma (consuls of Bulgaria and Monaco, respectively), my brother, his wife and their two-year-old daughter, the nanny and the driver.

The force of the impact violently slammed the Starex against the rear bumper of another bus, smashing the engine of the van and causing it to catch fire (a responding NLEx patrol extinguished the fire; if you saw the remains of the car, you would not believe that all those in the vehicle survived), and throwing my mom from her seat, causing her head to ram the back of the driver’s seat, which opened a wide, gaping cut on her head and left her unconscious, with bruises all over her body. The other passengers in the car suffered concussions, cuts and bruises as well. We are thankful that all of them survived although, as of this writing, my mom is still in the hospital, recuperating.

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Upon finding out about the incident, my sister and I tried frantically calling the bus company through their land line. But the number just kept on ringing. And no one from FNLT offered my family any kind of assistance or words of comfort on the day of accident. The company, in fact, “evaded” all my earlier, not-a-few attempts to get in touch with one of its owners/officers.

We were able to finally get to a representative of FNLT only through a friend (working for Victory Liner) of a friend of my brother (who was still in hospital nursing an injury)—though we had to wait until the following day to speak to him personally at the Apalit Municipal Police Station.

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From this experience I came to know that FNLT has had several accidents behind it, among them: a pedestrian hit and killed on Roman Superhighway, Bataan, on May 6, 2014; a collision with a Five Star bus along NLEx’s northbound lane on Oct. 18, 2013; an FNLT bus bursting into flames reportedly due to a short circuit on Nov. 29, 2014; and an FNLT bus driver who ran amok near Caloocan City Hall after an altercation with cops on June 3, 2014, the driver reportedly suspected of being under the influence of illegal drugs.

The operations of FNLT’s mother company itself, Victory Liner (http://firstnorthluzontransit.blogspot.com/p/contact.html), have been suspended several times for its buses’ involvement in deadly accidents—e.g., a major collision with a truck on Sept. 22, 2014, which left one killed and 20 others injured; and on April 20, 2014, a deadly accident in Zambales.

I don’t wish the stress, the trauma and the agony that happened to our family to befall anybody else. Thus, for the sake of my family and others, I’m calling for FNLT’s immediate suspension, pending the investigation of the incident; the retraining of its drivers; and a check on the quality of their buses and on their processes/services in handling the victims of their accidents.

—RJ LEDESMA

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TAGS: first north Luzon transit inc., fnlt, letters, nlex accidents
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