Four members of a family including an autorickshaw driver were killed when a KSRTC bus hit the autorickshaw head-on on the newly constructed bridge across the Netravathi, near Panemangalore, about 20 km away from the city, on Monday night.

The Bantwal Town police gave the names of the victims as Bhaskar (45), the autorickshaw driver, his brother Jagadish (42) and their wives Supreeta and Prema. These four and three others were in the autorickshaw driven by Bhaskar.

In a complaint, Bhaskara’s brother Jayanta, also an autorickshaw driver, said he and other family members were returning after attending a function at their relative’s house in Sarapady. The family members were returning in two autorickshaw to their house in Barimar. He was following the autorickshaw driven by Bhaskar. In the middle of the bridge, Bhaskar’s autorickshaw was hit head-on by the KSRTC bus coming from Bangalore to Mangalore.

Bhaskar, Jagadish, Supreeta and Prema died on the spot. Bhaskar’s children Abignya, Ritignya and Jagadish’s son Nishan have been admitted to private hospitals in Mangalore. The condition of Abignya and Nishan was critical. The driver and the conductor the bus ran away after the accident, the police said.

A large number of residents from Panemangalore, Akkarangadi and neighbouring areas rushed to the spot and helped the police in removing the bodies that were stuck in the badly mangled autorickshaw. According to eyewitness accounts, one part of the autorickshaw was found nearly 500 metres away from the place of the accident. Tension prevailed for a while when agitated residents tried to set the bus on fire. It was prevented by the police officials.

The KSRTC Divisional Traffic Officer (Puttur) Ramanagowda said it appears the autorickshaw overtook a vehicle and was hit by the bus that was approaching. The driver of the KSRTC bus was an experienced person, who has put in nearly five years of service. Mr. Ramanagowda said an inquiry was being done to find the cause of the accident.

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