Seven Filipino-American doctors and nurses died after a van driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a mahogany tree.
The accident occurred at about noon today (Saturday, January 20) in Barangay Legaspi, Alegria town, Cebu.
The driver, Gilbert dela Cruz, aged 24, has been arrested after admitting that he was asleep when the tragedy occurred.
Speaking to Super Radyo dzBB, local police chief, Senior Inspector Efren Diaz, said: “We are still obtaining further information about the accident. We’re still determining the speed of the car moments before the crash occurred.
“The driver denied he is a drug user, but he claimed he just lacked sleep.”
The doctors and nurses were due to begin a medical mission in Camiguin province on Monday. However, today they had been taking the opportunity to explore some of the island’s tourist hotspots. They had already visited Oslob for whale shark watching and were on the way to the Kawasan Falls in Badian when tragedy struck.
Six passengers of the Toyota Grandia were declared dead on arrival at Reinhard Wirtgen Memorial Hospital in Barangay Poblacion, Alegria, while a seventh passenger died in Malabuyoc District Hospital. Three survivors are now being treated at the Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City.
The fatalities have been named as Aurora Gagni, Joseph Huang, Juvelia Huang, Nunilo Rubio, Rey Pascual, Diana Pascual and Berniti Rojas. Two of the survivors have been identified as Leonor Tsai and Fred Tsai.
All of the passengers lived and worked in New York and Chicago.
Dela Cruz, who was suffered only minor injuries in the smash, will face complaints for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and physical injuries.