Thursday, February 26, 2009

Losing Amiel Alcantara - An Update

My heart is heavier now than it was earlier today when I started to piece together what had happenned to Amiel Alcantara, the Ateneo fourth grader who was hit by a CRV at the Ateneo de Manila grade school parking lot yesterday afternoon.

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.

The saddest part is that according to reports, Mrs. Torres, herself a mother of a fourth grader at the Ateneo, has not offered any apologies to the Alcantara family and claims that it was all an accident. I really don't know if being unapologetic is a legal strategy or a symptom of post-traumatic stress. Charges of homicide, reckless imprudence and several counts of perjury have supposedly been filed against Mrs. Torres who remains in custody at a Quezon City police station early today.

The Alcantara's come from a large, closely-knit family and I was comforted to see many family members and friends at the wake this evening. I was seated beside Amiel's youngest sister who though smiling, appeared a bit dazed. "Sana that car was not just kept moving and moving and would not stop," she told us when we asked her about the accident. My heart goes out to these children, I'm almost certain that this is a loss that they will carry with them forever. I only find comfort in knowing that Amiel is now happy and safe and whole with Jesus. I pray that justice will be served because Teresa Torres is a mother with a family too. May her family find courage and enlightenment. May God hold Amiel's siblings and family members close, protect them, and may they all be filled with the Holy Spirit so that they may be guided at this very difficult time.