A vehicle heading to Aluthgama last Saturday hit two cyclists and a motorcyclist before crashing onto a wall at Payagala and coming to a halt.
The two cyclists who were thrown off, landed on the roof of a house, falling through it before succumbing to their injuries. The motorcycle rider was seriously injured.
Gayan Fernando (31), and Nuwan Malcom Sanjeewa, 28 were the victims of this accident. They were both married and had one child each.
|The first accident on the expressaway claimed the life of a 26-year-old youth
Family members of the victims and villagers have charged that the man taken into custody was not the driver of the vehicle but that he was a cover-up for the real culprit, a relative of an area politician. Police have now ordered a DNA test on the man who was taken in.
The Sunday Times also learns that the victims’ families were offered compensation from the owners of the vehicle.
The accident was one of the 17 fatal cases reported in the 24 hours from Saturday to Sunday morning, marking the highest number of cases reported within such a short time span. In January alone 157 persons were killed in road accidents islandwide, police said.
There was little let-up this week too with more accidents being reported and victims voicing concern of losing income as they were unable to go to work.
B.D Hemachandra (33) a victim of a road accident from Weyangoda, said, he was riding his motor bike with a colleague on the pillion after work when he met with the accident.
“On the way I have to negotiate four bends, and while I was taking the third, I saw a lorry which appeared to have lost control heading towards us from a distance of about 100 metres. Next moment, all I knew was that it had collided with my bike.
|B.D. Hemachandra recovering at the National Hospital.
Pix by Indika Handuwala
“I have dislocated my hip bone and I’m in severe pain,” he said adding that he was worried how long he would have to convalesce.
Shantha Kumar (41) from Gampola said he lost his balance and fell on the road when he was knocked down by a speeding motorbike while he was walking.
“I’m a bus driver and if I do not drive everyday, I will not be able to earn enough money for my family,” he lamented.
The first fatal accident on the expressway was reported on Wednesday, when a 26 year old youth employed as an executive in a mobile phone company was killed when his car skidded across the southern expressway.
He had left with another friend of the same company in two cars and his friend had realized midway that the car behind him was missing. He had turned back when he noticed that the second car had gone off the road at Dodangoda, Galle. He had gone about about 50 metres before hitting a rock stone, police said.
Meanwhile, National Hospital Deputy Director Prasad Ariyawansa, said there was an alarming increase in the number of victims of road accidents as well as fatal cases last month compared to the corresponding period last year.
National Hospital statistics reveal that of the 9259 treated in January this year , 13 percent or 1203 were victims of traffic accidents. In comparison the figures in January last year showed of the 8003 patients treated, 12 percent or 960 were victims of traffic accidents.
|SSP K. Arasaratnam
In 2011 the number of deaths in January stood at 25 while last month it was 35.
Dr. Ariyawansa said negligence on the part of road users and disregard to road rules were the main reasons for the recent spurt in accidents. Accident victims mainly male were between 15 and 48 years.
Commenting on the nature of the injuries sustained he said many of the serious and sometimes fatal cases included head injuries and fractures of limbs and ribs. Many of those who succumbed to injuries sustained as a result of road accidents were motorcyclists, he added.
He said a majority of the patients in the ICU were victims of road accidents. “The injuries are invariably long term and the severity is much higher than any other injury,” Dr. Ariyawansa said.
He said he believed that the installation of CCTV cameras throughout the country could help reduce the number of accidents, by detecting speed fiends and imposing deterrent fines.
He said the hospital too was involved in creating awareness of road safety by working in collaboration with organizations like the road safety council for national council of prevention of injuries, to conduct workshops.
Meanwhile Director Traffic administration and road safety SSP K. Arasaratnam commenting on the recent accidents said 75 percent of the victims were motorcyclists.
He said many of them fall victim as they travel without helmets, have too many pillion riders, overtake or make sudden turns without warning. Many riders are inexperienced youngsters who rarely follow road rules.
“Six hundred motorcycles are registered at the Registary of Motor Vehicles (RMV) daily .Among the 450,000 newly registered vehicles 230,000 are motorbikes,” he pointed out.
Following the recent accident involving a school van, SSP Arasaratnam said, traffic police will be vigilant about errant school van drivers, the roadworthiness of the vehicles and the number of students travelling in a vehicle.