by Rey M. Nasol and Ephraim Aguilar
First posted 23:22:45 (Mla time) August 21, 2010
LEGAZPI CITY--Binibining Pilipinas International 2009 Melody Gersbach was dead on the spot Saturday morning after the van she was riding in figured in a head-on collision with a public bus, an Army officer here said.
Two other persons, the driver and couturier of the beauty titlist, also died in the accident which occurred at 11:45 a.m., according to Maj. Harold Cabunoc, public information officer of the 9th Infantry Division based in Pili, Camarines Sur, quoting an initial police report.
“The accident occurred in Barangay Pawili in Bula,” said Cabunoc in a text message.
Gersbach and her companions were in a Toyota Innova on their way to Naga City when their vehicle collided with a Guevarra Bus Line driven by Wilson Pontillas.
The bus driver surrendered to police, said Cabunoc.
The two others confirmed dead were Dodong Ramos, the driver, and Alden Orense, couturier of the beauty titlist.
A fourth victim, identified as Ronald Lita, survived and was rushed to the Bicol Medical Center.
Police said the bus was trying to avoid a tricycle when it hit the Innova.
A resident of Barangay Culliat in Daraga, Albay, Gersbach, 24, who was also Ms Bicolandia 2009, left her house at 9 a.m. to attend a pre-pageant event in connection with the coming celebration of the Peñafrancia Festival in Naga City next month.
Ricky Gonzales, brother of the owner of the Innova, said the van was a total wreck.
“The scene was really morbid. The red Innova Melody was aboard was totally wrecked that almost only the wheels were left,” added Ariel Guban, president of the Rotaract Club of Legazpi Central.
Gersbach was a member of Rotaract, a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women aged 18 to 30.
On Nov. 28 last year, Gersbach competed against more than 60 other contestants in the Miss International contest held in Beijing, China.
Gersbach had said then that “her bubbly character, positive attitude and passion for helping others” would help her clinch the title.
Gersbach placed in the top 15 but lost out to Miss Mexico Ana Gabriela Espinosa.
Beauty queen blogger Joyce Titular-Burton, in an online interview, had fond memories of Gersbach, who was born of a German father and Filipino mother.
“I remember last Christmas when Melody texted me that she had some special German Christmas cakes for sale at their German restaurant on Makati Avenue. I bought a few for my Christmas dinner and loved how they tasted. I even blogged about it,” said Titular-Burton, author of the “Adventures of a Beauty Queen” blog.
“Now, German Christmas cakes will be a bittersweet reminder to me of how we lost Melody. Let this be a call to our President Aquino to really crack down on our terrible bus system. Do we have to lose another beautiful person because of greedy companies and wayward bus drivers?”