Bayasen v. Court of Appeals

G.R. No. L-25785, 26 February 1981, 103 SCRA 197

FACTS:

Saturnino Bayasen, the Rural Health Physician in Sagada, Mountain Province, went to barrio Ambasing to visit a patient. Two nurses from the Saint Theodore’s Hospital in Sagada, viz., Elena Awichen and Dolores Balcita, rode with him in the jeep assigned for the use of the Rural Health Unit as they had requested for a ride to Ambasing. Later, at Ambasing, the girls, who wanted to gather flowers, again asked if they could ride with him up to a certain place on the way to barrio Suyo which he intended to visit anyway. Dr. Bayasen again allowed them to ride, Elena sitting herself between him and Dolores. On the way, at barrio Langtiw, the jeep went over a precipice. About 8 feet below the road, it was blocked by a pine tree. The three were thrown out of the jeep. Elena was found lying in a creek further below. Among other injuries, she suffered a skull fracture which caused her death.

ISSUE:

Whether or not negligence can be ascribed to the accused herein.

RULING:

It is obvious that the proximate cause of the tragedy was the skidding of the rear wheels of the jeep and not the “unreasonable speed” of the petitioner because there is no evidence on record to prove or support the finding that the petitioner was driving at “an unreasonable speed”.

It is a well-known physical fact that cars may skid on greasy or slippery roads, as in the instant case, without fault on account of the manner of handling the car. Skidding means partial or complete loss of control of the car under circumstances not necessarily implying negligence. It may occur without fault.

No negligence as a matter of law can, therefore, be charged to the petitioner. In fact, the moment he felt that the rear wheels of the jeep skidded, he promptly drove it to the left hand side of the road, parallel to the slope of the mountain, because as he said, he wanted to play safe and avoid the embankment

Under the particular circumstances of the instant case, the petitioner-driver who skidded could not be regarded as negligent, the skidding being an unforeseen event, so that the petitioner had a valid excuse for his departure from his regular course.
The negligence of the petitioner not having been sufficiently established, his guilt of the crime charged has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. He is, therefore, entitled to acquittal.

*Case digest by Terence Eyre B. Belangoy, LLB-4 (Refresher), Andres Bonifacio School of Law, SY 2018-2019

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