Twelve persons, including 10 children, were injured when the van carrying them swerved off the road at Vellaikadavu, crashed through concrete railings on the roadside, hit an electric post, and fell into the courtyard of a house, about 15 feet below the Puliyarakonam-Vattiyurkavu road on Wednesday.
The van was carrying 10 students, aged between seven and 12, of the Guru Gopinath Nadana Gramam, run under the aegis of the State Culture Department, from its centre at Kuruvikadu. While 15 students were dropped before the accident, the remaining 10 were to be dropped at Vellaikadavu, the stop being hardly a five-minute drive from the accident site. The students, driver, and the cleaner have not sustained major injuries.
However, the police and eyewitnesses said the children were lucky to have survived the accident. The van had hit an electric post with low-lying lines, narrowly missed a house below, before hitting two coconut trees in the courtyard of the house, turning over once and coming to a standstill on its side.
Meena, an occupant of the house, said she was having lunch around 1.10 p.m. when she heard a loud crash. As she came to the door of the house, she saw a white vehicle “flying” past her. Two contract labourers, who were cutting iron rods in the courtyard, were saved by the two coconut trees that blocked the van’s slide after it landed in the courtyard. The driver, they said, immediately jumped out and started pulling the children out. Local people joined him and the children were rushed to hospital on another vehicle that came by.
James Sunny, secretary of the Nadana Gramam, said the van was one of the two hired to ferry students during the vacation classes, which end by 12.30 p.m. Vilappilsala Additional sub inspector Vikraman Nair said statements of the children were recorded while that of the driver and cleaner would be taken on Thursday. Though there were doubts whether the driver had slept, causing the van to go out of control, this was yet to be ascertained, the police said, adding that a case had been registered.