June 1, 2023

De La Salle Lipa (DLSL) graduate Rio John Abel, along with two other volunteers, died in a road accident at San Jose, Batangas, hours after delivering aid to evacuees in Padre Imo Luna Memorial Elementary School (PILMES), Jan. 14.

Reports say that at around 1:30 a.m., Maximo Alcantara III, driving a white Mitsubishi Lancer, was spotted speeding along the Banaybanay highway, causing them to hit a 10-wheeler truck entering the Fastgro Feedmill Corp.

Rio John Abel, an alumnus from De La Salle Lipa, died after being involved in a car accident. (F. Bacani)

Abel and Alcantara were reported to have died on the spot while Darwin Lajara, who was seated at the back, survived the crash and was rushed to the nearest hospital, but also passed away this morning, Jan. 15. 

It is still unclear why the vehicle was driving at high speed, but according to witnesses and officers situated at the Banaybanay covered basketball court, the vehicle did not appear to be in full control.

[…] Ang sasakyan na yun ay mabilis at pasuray suray. […] Kaya may possibility talaga na maaksidente,” San Jose police chief Neil Christopher Gaspar said.

Abel’s grandmother Aurora Mercado said that Rio asked permission around 10 p.m. of Jan. 13 to deliver relief goods to the evacuees of Taal Volcano phreatic eruption.

Aurora Mercado, grandmother of Rio Abel, mourn the sudden death of his grandson. (F. Bacani)

“‘Madali lang po ako’ ang sabi niya. ‘Yun pala’y nagpunta at tumulong sa pagsisilbi ng mga evacuees sa PILMES,” Mercado said.

Meanwhile Abel’s girlfriend, Jewel Opulencia, narrated that he had messaged her around 1 a.m. saying that he was already on his way home–not knowing that it would be their last conversation.

“Sabi niya uuwi na raw siya […] Akala ko eh bandang 12 [midnight] uuwi na siya kase ‘yun ‘yung sabi niya,” Opulencia said.

On the other hand, DLSL President Br. Dante Amisola expressed his condolences and  gratitude to Abel for risking his own life to serve his fellow Batangueños. 

“Let us not let Rio’s life and his example of self-sacrifice be in vain. Let us honor him instead by extolling the values he lived and died for,” Amisola said on his Facebook post. 

(Photo from Abel’s Facebook account)

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