Death of Filipino family in Qatar sparks road safety debate

Ben Chris Rivera, Joyce Rivera and their one-year-old son, Arclian Zirc III


Ben Chris Rivera, Joyce Rivera and their one-year-old son, Arclian Zirc III

News of three deadly car accidents that killed at least eight people in Qatar over the past week has thrust the issue of road safety here back in the spotlight, with residents urging more caution on the roads and increased enforcement of the law.

The most recent deaths occurred on Monday, when three women, one man and a one-year-old baby were killed after their parked car was struck by a speeding Land Cruiser.

Saudi residents Marilou Cal and Joyce Gelli.


Saudi residents Marilou Cal and Joyce Gelli.

Speaking to the Gulf Times, the Philippines ambassador confirmed that the deceased include a couple with a child: 36-year-old Bencris Rivera, 28-year-old Joycelyn Rivera and 1-year-old Arclian Zirc III.

The child’s aunt, Suzette Rivera-Baclor, was thrown from the car and has survived the accident with injuries, but two of her colleagues who were visiting with her from Saudi Arabia – nurses Marilou Cal, 24, and Joyce Gelli, 27 – were also killed in the accident.

The Gulf Times reports ambassador Crescente Relacion as saying the Qatar-based family had been taking their guests on a tour around Doha. He continued:

“To show them the newly-opened Hamad International Airport from a distance, Bencris stopped his Nissan Pathfinder at a dedicated ‘short-term’ parking area on the Corniche-Wakrah highway and all of them came out of the vehicle to see the airport.

‘They were about to leave and Suzeth was the last to board,’ Relacion said. ‘All of a sudden a Land Cruiser, believed to be driven by an 18-year old national, hit the Pathfinder from behind.'”

Rivera-Baclor was apparently thrown out of the vehicle due to the impact and the vehicle caught fire. All the five inside the Pathfinder burned to death, the ambassador said.


Emotions have been high since Sunday’s accident, with many residents expressing bitterness, anger and grief online over what happened.

Some called for the driver of the Land Cruiser to be criminally prosecuted – something that depends on if he’s liable, according to Relacion.

Other debated the source of the problem, asserting that the issue of locals driving badly needed to be addressed.

That argument was countered by some who said that the real issue is that residents of all stripes fail to follow road rules here. On Facebook, Ameer Abdul Razak said:

“It’s nothing about nationality .. It’s all about personality &’s so sad to read the racist kind of comments… Be a human .. Stop racial discrimination .. May God bless Qatar.”

Others urged Qatar authorities to take a greater role in maintaining road safety. On Facebook, Christian Espiritu Biglete said:

“I have been living here in Doha for the past 2 yrs and really heard and seen a lot of horrible road accidents due to careless people who thinks they own the roads… Qatar is a nice country for me just like other Filipinos it is where we build our dreams and the future of our generations. But most of us are becoming afraid because of some people who drive like hell…

Innocents are being killed and put on danger… Im just curious because this incidents are very rampant and i (don’t) know what the (government) thinks about it…. I hope as our second home we can feel the security and safeness of Qatar… Because just like everybody else we are trying to make a life here…”

Finally, many residents offered advice to their peers on staying safe.

On Facebook, Ian Smith said:

“It was only a matter of time before this happened in such a high profile case , it will happen again and again there is no way to stop it. My advice is to always travel in the biggest safest car you can afford with lots of airbags. If that small car had a crumple zone at the back and rear doors those 5 people may have walked away.”


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