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Motorist killed, 2 hurt in EDSA mishap

- Nikko Dizon () - August 16, 2003 - 12:00am
A man was burned to death while two of his companions were critically injured after a dump truck rammed into their stalled car early yesterday morning near the Ayala tunnel in Makati City.

Police said the body of fatality Arnold Balawang was charred beyond recognition.

Rushed to the Makati Medical Center for treatment were Allan Villa and Peter Ruiz.

A fourth companion, Warren Garcia, 23, of San Pedro, Laguna, was unhurt.

The driver of the dump truck (UJG-347), Juanito de Jesus, was initially reported to have escaped, but was surrendered to the authorities shortly before lunch by his employer and lawyer.

The incident happened at around 4 a.m. on the southbound lane of EDSA, a few meters away from the Ayala tunnel, said case investigator, PO1 Norman Mapili of the Intelligence and Investigation Division of the Makati Traffic Enforcement Group.

Investigation showed Balawang had just finished replacing the flat tire on his Opel sedan and was putting back his tools in the trunk when the dump truck hit the rear of his car.

Mapili said the impact caused the car’s gasoline tank to explode, engulfing Balawang, his car, and the front portion of the truck in flames.

Fire and debris reached Villa and Ruiz, who were standing near the vehicle. Garcia, on the other hand, was lucky to be directing traffic a good distance away from the vehicle.

He told the police that one of the tires of their car, said to be a late 70s to 80s model, burst, forcing them to park at the left innermost lane of EDSA.

Garcia said they had an early warning device.

Mapili said the truck driver may have seen Balawang’s car too late as indicated by the skid marks some five to eight meters away from the vehicle.

Phydias Ramos, lawyer of De Jesus’ employer, denied that the driver tried to escape.

The lawyer said De Jesus panicked after the incident.

"He got on a bus. He was so shocked that he did not realize he was already in Caloocan," Ramos told The STAR.

He said De Jesus eventually sought the help of his employer.

According to De Jesus, the area was very dark. Driving at 60 kilometers per hour, De Jesus was shocked to see the stalled car. He tried to slow down but it was too late.

Garcia told the police that he had only met the victims at a popular nightspot in Quezon City the night before and hitched a ride with them going home.

Garcia said he only knew Balawang was around 35 years old and was engaged in a computer service business with an office at the Medical Plaza building in Makati.

Mapili said appropriate charges would be filed against De Jesus.

ALLAN VILLA AND PETER RUIZ ARNOLD BALAWANG AYALA BALAWANG CAR DE JESUS GARCIA JESUS MAKATI CITY MAKATI MEDICAL CENTER MAPILI
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