Teen actor AJ Perez, who got his breakthrough role on the ABS-CBN drama “Sabel,” passed away early Sunday, April 17, after sustaining multiple head injuries from a vehicular accident while on his way back to Manila from a show in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. He was 18.
The van AJ was riding collided with a Partas bus while traversing McArthur Highway in Tarlac province, reports said. The actor was a passenger of the vehicle and was sleeping when the accident happened. He was rushed to Rayos Valentin hospital in Paniqui, Tarlac but was declared dead on arrival at 12:20 a.m.
AJ was with his father, Gerardo, two road managers, a driver and an event marshal in the van. AJ’s companions survived the mishap.
Police was quoted in a dzMM report that the rented van, driven by Christopher Bautista, tried to overtake a trailer truck on the southbound lane of McArthur Highway in Barangay San Julian, Tarlac. While the van encroached the opposite lane, the incoming Partas passenger bus did not decelerate and hit the left side of the van on the opposite lane of the highway. AJ, who leaned on the leftside window of the van, was seated behind the driver’s seat.
The driver of the Partas bus is now under police custody and faces charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and multiple physical injuries, police further said. Investigations are ongoing.
The actor had just attended the Kapamilya Karavan show in Dagupan City to celebrate the annual Bangus Festival. He performed in the show together with fellow Star Magic talents Zaijan Jaranilla and Matt Evans.
AJ rushed back to Manila to prepare for an appearance on the ABS-CBN show “ASAP Rocks” later Sunday.
As he was headed for home, AJ tweeted at 10 p.m. Saturday, April 16: “On the way home already from Dagupan.Long drive ahead.. Thanks to everybody who watched.”
AJ will have his last appearance in an episode of “Maala-ala Mo Kaya” on April 30.
ABS-CBN expressed its sympathies through a statement sent to Yahoo! OMG! Philippines.
“ABS-CBN sympathizes with AJ’s family on the untimely demise, and urges everyone to pray for the eternal repose of AJ’s soul and for the family and loved ones he left behind,” said Bong Osorio, ABS-CBN head for Corporate Communications.
“ABS-CBN continues to help AJ’s family during this difficult and discomforting time and to attend to the needs of the others who got hurt in the unfortunate accident,” he added.
AJ’s remains will be brought to his alma mater, La Salle Greenhills, on Sunday afternoon until Tuesday noontime, a post on his Twitter account made at 8 a.m. Sunday said. The tweet, apparently from AJ’s family, urged everyone to “please visit him.”
AJ, whose full name is Antonello Joseph Sarte Perez started doing commercials for various brands but was spotted by Star Magic talent scouts on a Milo commercial. He was eventually signed by the ABS-CBN talent arm then underwent talent workshops before being cast in supporting roles in the movies “Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo,” “Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo,” “Bahay Kubo,” “Tanging Pamilya,” and “Mamarazzi.” On TV, he appeared on the ABS-CBN shows “Lobo” and “Agua Bendita,” before he took on the lead male role in “Sabel” opposite Jessy Mendiola.
Gerry Plaza with reports from Glenda Villena, Yahoo! OMG! Philippines