Search for missing boy in Mandaue fire continues

By: Rosalie Abatayo - CDN Digital | February 18,2020 - 11:01 AM

The search and retrieval operation for Gerick Gestopa continues, a day since a fire razed houses in Barangay Centro, Mandaue City on February 17, 2020. CDN Digital photo |Rosalie Abatayo

MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — Over 24 hours since the Monday dawn fire that hit Barangay Centro here, members of the Mandaue City Fire Station continue their search for Gerick Gestopa, the 21-year-old special child who was believed to have been trapped inside a house during the fire.

Senior Fire Officer 2 Edgar Vergara, the station’s chief investigator, said they will not consider Gestopa a fatality of the fire incident until a body is found.

“Samtang wala pa tay nakita nga remains niya, dili gyud nato siya maingon [nga casualty]. Basin pa diay, only God knows, wa ta kahibaw og nakahunahuna to ang bata nga init na kaayo  unya niambak siya unya nakagawas,” Vergara told CDN Digital.

(While we have not retrieved his remains, we cannot count him as a casualty. Maybe, only God knows, he might have thought that it was too hot already and decided to jump and escaped the fire.)

The charred remains of Gerick’s grandparents, Retired Judge Gerardo Gestopa and wife, Louella, were found in the fire scene yesterday morning, February 17, 2020.

Read: Retired judge and wife reportedly among those killed in Mandaue fire

The couple reportedly died after they went back to save Gerick, who was still inside the house and refused to get out as he was afraid of the heat from the fire.

“Sa amo lang gyud nga pagtan-aw, dunay possibility nga nakagawas siya, niambak nisulod sa ilang helper, kato iyang yaya,” Vergara said.

(As we see it, there is really a possibility that he made it out of the house. Maybe he also jumped following their helper, his nanny.)

Read: Retired judge, wife sacrificed their lives to save grandchild

Vergara, however, said that they are not dismissing the possibility that the fire consumed most of Gerick’s remains.

“Sa kasagrado sa lawas sa tawo, di man gyud na mahurot ang lawas sa tawo. Duna gyud nay mahibilin kining sa iyang jaw or sa skull. Kung moingon man nga namatay gyud ang bata, paninguhaon gyud namo nga ma-retrieve bisan gamay lang nga portion niya,” Vergara said.

(Usually, a person’s body when burned doesn’t get totally consumed. There will always be something left like a jaw or skull. If the kid really perished, we will do our best to retrieve even a small portion of his remains.)

Vergara explained that the strong water current from the fire hoses may also have scattered Gerick’s remains if he was really trapped inside the burned house.

On Tuesday afternoon, Vergara said they would once again resume the search and retrieval operation in the fire scene with the help of K-9 units that the Gestopa family requested from other law enforcement units. /bmjo

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TAGS: Barangay Centro, centro fire, fire, Gerick Gestopa, killed, Mandaue City, Mandaue fire, missing boy, retired judge, wife

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