A Tragic Accident in Ateneo (An Update-Feb. 26)

Today (Feb. 26) I read an update on what really happened to Amiel from the blogs of Cathy and Noemi, both co-founders of  The Compassionate Friends (Philippines) — a grief support group for those who lose a child . Cathy and Noemi are parents who had to deal with their sons’ sudden deaths. The Philippine Daily Inquirer also has accounts HERE and HERE. GMANews carries a 3D simulation HERE.

The details in Cathy’s blog sent shivers up my spine. Here is part of Cathy’s account:

My husband and I have just returned from his wake and I am shocked, stunned and restless over the circumstances surrounding his death. The Alcantara’s actually almost lost three children, and not just one.

Amiel, his 65-year old Yaya Tata (who has been with the family for 40 plus years), his 7 year old sister, and 13 year old brother Javi, together with the driver, were already so close to their car when the CRV driven by Teresa Torres, careened from behind and hit Amiel. Yaya Tata was able to push the youngest one and the elder boy out of the way but was too far to get to Amiel. Yaya Tata had herself suffered injuries and fractures and is set to have surgery next week. The most heart-wrenching thing about the whole thing is that it was the Alcantara’s driver and 13 year old Javi who had to extricate Amiel from beneath the van. The impact was so strong that three other vehicles were damaged in the process before the vehicle finally came to a stop. How does a 13 year old young boy cope with the image of seeing his younger brother that way?

It was the driver who took Amiel to the New Era hospital and they were en route to the hospital in another Ateneo parent’s car when Amiel died in his arms. Amiel’s father, Pepe Alcantara, former chair of the UP Student Council in the 1980s, and his mother, Niann, were no longer able to see their youngest son alive. It is a tragedy of such great proportions.

The CRV that careened through the parking lot was around 25 meters away from where the kids were standing. Apparently, for some reasons that remain yet unclear, the driver had stepped heavily on the accelerator because a screeching sound, akin to those that you hear at drag races, was heard by several witnesses before the car sped and hit Amiel.

Our youngest son who will turn 15 in a few days came to me a few weeks back and asked me: “Mom, next year is it possible for yaya not to fetch me anymore? I am big enough to walk home by myself.” Wanting him to learn independence, I had nodded my head and made a note of this for next year. But now, I can’t help but fear not only for him but for our older son who also walks home. No matter how careful they will be in crossing the streets, a careless driver could cause them harm. All parents, I think, are haunted by this possibility.

As the Alcantara family continue to deal now and in the future with this irreplaceable loss, I can only pray for them to find comfort in Our Lord and His Mother (she, who also saw her only son die).

Will I allow my sons to continue walking to school? Maybe. Most likely. But I will likely also step up my prayers over them. One great book I find very comforting during times like this is The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. Try to get hold of a copy and use it to cover your children with prayers throughout their lives. We can only shelter our kids so much. The rest is up to Him.

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Veegee
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 15:40:50

    I already emailed Fr. Nebres with suggestions and he replied using his personal email address and assured me of the administration’s support. I suggest parents who really feel strongly about this (who doesn’t?) likewise email Fr. Ben.

    We need to do something about the situation inside campus. Surely we do not want it to be a reflection of the chaos outside. Ateneo is our children’s second home and we need to be sure they are safe there.

    Please take time to share your suggestions.

    Jane: Am glad your proactive action got immediate results from Fr. Ben. I am sure he is also proactively leading Ateneo’s investigation into the matter and what can be done to prevent such accidents happening in future.

    Reply

  2. cookie
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 20:46:47

    i’ve been in total shock since this happened. being a mother of 2 kids, I now fear for my kids’ safety a hundred times more. i hope that the powers that be in the ateneo address this situation with the utmost urgency.

    Jane: I totally agree with you, Cookie.

    Reply

  3. Kay
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 23:27:35

    I am with you on praying for the healing of the little boy’s parents. I do not understand why that woman did what she did. I do not believe that this was just a reckless accident. To accelarate inside campus is plain darn stupidit, pardon the word.

    Such a senseless death to what could have been a good future for a good kid.

    Jane: Hello Kay. I believe that everything that happens has a purpose in life, even those that at first glance seem senseless, like Amiel’s. I hope that down the road, we will all see the mission that was given to him in the short span of life that he has led. This makes us realize that time with our loved ones is truly precious and must be lived from day to day.

    Reply

  4. jonas
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 01:22:10

    Kahit ano ang gawin mo. paikot ikutin mo mo ang story… may kasalanan parin yun mga paring saksakan ng takaw sa pera… ang mahal mahal ang tuition ng mga anak natin… mas importante pa sa kanila kung paano mag increase ng tuition… pero simpleng parking problem di nila maayos.. mag hire sila ng safety engineer… laki laki ng open areas sa ateneo.. dala dalawa ang football field … compute mo ang oras na ginagamit yun football field… at compare mo yun oras na magagamit natin yun area na iyon sa parking…bakit di nila maayos ang ang parking sa loob. …tuwing dismissal time saksakan ng gulo sa loob… may kasalanan rin yung mga paring iyan… huwag sila maghugas ng kamay…. it is an accident waiting to happen…. sana di na maulit ulit….

    Jane: All our emotions are heightened due to this situation and rightly so. I know the school authorities are already looking into the different aspects of this accident. Maybe you can course your suggestions directly. An earlier comment posted here gave the President’s email as . Like you, I hope na hindi na maulit ito — kahit saang school pa.

    Reply

  5. Tzie
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 08:33:49

    I was also at the wake last night, thursday. I know Amiel’s father. It is true that the woman has not apologized to the family. Amiel’s father visited the woman but she just said something like “wala akong magagawa, it was an accident, ganon e.” Based on my conversations with the people there, including Yaya Tata, it seems that yes, initially, there may be no intention to hit Amiel and his companions but it seems that there was already an intent to kill Amiel after hitting him initially dahil inatrasan pa daw sya. Would you believe? Para syang bus driver na ang gawain ay patayin na lang ang mga nabubunggo nilang tao dahil mas mura daw ang damages na babayaran. That woman deserves to be jailed all her life! Justice for Amiel and his family!

    Jane: Hi Tzie. I know how you feel since you are a friend of Amiel’s dad. Actually there are already so many versions of what happened that I would really like to hear the Mom’s side from her own mouth. All emotions are heightened at this time and we are all reacting as parents or as people who have loved ones in that school. I hope the truth comes out real soon so that Amiel’s death will not be in vain.

    Reply

  6. Ryan Ericson Canlas
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 09:30:12

    I came from UP and not from Ateneo and I am a father as well but my son is not an ATENISTA but from Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. I write because what had happened to AMIEL was something that made me realizes a lot of things not just about the incident but about FATHERHOOD.

    The story focuses on AMIEL’s FATHER as well as a FATHER & SON school activity has been nearing. We as fathers may not at all be so showy and emotional to our sons because of being pre-occupied with our roles as providers and heads of our families but then this has made me re-think that our focus no matter what should always be with our kids – with our family.

    Each day counts. I often would kiss my son and tell him how I love him being the only child. I could just imagine how painful it is for AMIEL’s FATHER to have bid farewell to his son after breakfast as a normal daily routine without expecting that moment was their last. I cried while driving home.

    I must have heard the news late but I cannot stop thinking about it. Imagine a school so expensive where you expect that traffic enforcers are regulating the flow of vehicles because kids from known and from ordinary families are around the place which they have to protect, but then there is none.

    I have not heard in any of the news article about the school having its own ambulance or experienced in-house medics attending to the need of the child. It was the lady whom we all do not know who volunteered to help the child and the driver to take them to the hospital.

    Worse is that as mentioned, no one even wanted to open their doors for the driver who was walking and carrying the bloodied child for help. It is sad. Imagine how people can be heroes in the split of a second and how some chooses to be numb and careless. Why? Is it because they do not want to stain their nice car’s interiors? Too bad.

    I do not intend to blame or raise issues here. The point here is that all we all as parents are responsible for our kids. More so, as drivers, we too are responsible to ensure that we maintain safety and caution. Now, we can never revert things back. We need to move forward and learn from this. AMIEL’s life has a good purpose indeed and that is to awaken us all about safety, care, time and love for our kids.

    As I reached home, I asked for my son. He was playing hide and seek with me as usual. I search all the possible hiding places until I found him. I never asked him about his school works or about what news on BANDILA as he is fond of watching news. No words were said… I just hugged my son so tight and kissed him so many times as tears fall.

    I love my son and I would not want such thing to happen to him even when he is already old and on his own. Thus, as I write this, I am writing to the officials of Lourdes School of Mandaluyong as well to improve pedestrian safety and proper parking regulations and perhaps put PEDESTRIAN LANES and MARKINGS along SHAW BLVD. and in front of CITYLAND SHAW TOWER to ensure safety.

    Thank you AMIEL for waking us up. You will forever be remembered in our hearts.

    RYAN ERICSON CANLAS
    SAP Practice Manager – SAP COE
    International SAP BASIS Consultant
    ryanericsongcanlas@yahoo.com

    Jane: Ryan, your wonderful comment, written from the heart, truly warmed my day today. It is not often I hear from a father on my blog. And most of all, not from someone who readily acknowledges tears, hugs and kisses for a child. You sound like a very wonderful father who loves your son very much. Maybe that was indeed the mission of Amiel — to bring awareness to all schools about the risks our kids take every day in going to school. And not just schools but traffic administrators as well. Your comment on a school ambulance is indeed a great idea which I hope Ateneo will consider. And hopefully your son’s school, if they get to read this comment of yours, will take to task your suggestions as well. God bless you and may His Divine Protection be with you and your loved ones always.

    Reply

  7. abdo
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 22:22:16

    god be with you

    Reply

  8. Trackback: Julian Carlo Miguel (Amiel) Alcantara–heaven sent, an angel goes back to The Father | The D Spot
  9. raqgold
    Mar 02, 2009 @ 21:08:56

    MC just asked me yesterday if she could walk home from school alone, and then i read this. such an accident could happen anytime anywhere… but if there are things done to prevent them, mas maganda. am sure us parents would even help out to create a program to prevent accident di ba? thanks for sharing, jane. and i hope you feel better soon.

    Reply

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