13 hurt as wayward SUV rams crowd in Batac

BATAC CITY, Ilocos Norte – Thirteen people, including Ilocos Norte senior provincial board member Ria Fariñas and her sister-in-law Janina Singson Medina-Fariñas, were injured when an alleged brand new sports utility vehicle (SUV) went wayward and rammed a crowd of mourners during a funeral procession for the late former congressman Mariano ‘”Anno” Nalupta Jr. here on Saturday morning, Sept. 13, lawmen reported.

The injured victim, Ria is the daughter of Congressman Rodolfo C. Fariñas (1st district, Ilocos Norte) while slightly hurt Janina is the daughter-in-law of Rep. Fariñas being the wife of his son Carlos Fariñas. Janina is the daughter of Vigan City Mayor Eva Singson-Medina and grand daughter of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson. A close relative of the Nalupta family was also hit in the leg by the erratic SUV.

It was learned that Rep. Fariñas, Gov. Imee Marcos and police provincial director Senior Supt. Antonio Mendoza Jr. were present in the said Nalupta funeral when the freak accident occurred.

Police said the mourners were on their way out of Immaculate Conception parish church for the cemetery after a concelebrated mass for Nalupta when the alleged speeding automatic SUV suddenly came from behind, zigzagging and plowed into the big crowd until it rammed six parked vehicles and bumped the church gate. People panicked as they screamed, cried and called for police and ambulance assistance for the bloodied victims.

The victims were rushed to the nearby Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital where they were treated for various body injuries. Many of the injured are elderly, witnesses said.

At press time, Ria Fariñas was airlifted via a private plane for further treatment in a hospital in Metro Manila. Her condition is now stable, sources said.

Investigators said the SUV driver allegedly worked with the Nalupta family. When grilled at the police station, he appeared confused and seldom talked, probers said. He merely said “he could not control the SUV when it went wayward.”

Meanwhile, Batac police chief Reynaldo Ogay told reporters that a mechanic expert of Mitsubishi company based in Laoag had checked the ill-fated SUV to determine if mechanical trouble or human error on the part of the driver had caused the freak accident.

Official result of the Mitsubishi inspection on the SUV is expected to be released to the press by the Batac police station. (Excel Guiang/Freddie G. Lazaro)