Eight students suffered minor injuries in accident at Tambaram; vehicle had no attendant as mandated by State regulations; children claimed the driver was steering with only one hand

A group of school students were hurt, but none seriously, when the private van in which they were travelling landed on its side, after the driver lost control on a road overbridge in Tambaram on Wednesday evening.

No attendant

There were 15 children in the van and most of them were girls. The vehicle did not have an attendant, as is mandatory. Investigations are on to ascertain if the vehicle fulfilled the conditions stipulated by the State government for school vehicles. 

 A few of the students sustained bruises and slight bleeding injuries, and were treated at a private hospital, where doctors told their parents and school authorities that all were out of danger.

 G. Balaji (29) of Bharathi Nagar, Tambaram, was at the wheel of a Mahindra maxi cab and was taking a group of children from schools in East Tambaram and Selaiyur to their homes in West Tambaram. Around 4 p.m. he is reported to have lost control and the vehicle, after slamming into the side wall of the bridge, landed on its left side.

 Traffic police, motorists and pedestrians rushed to the vehicle and pulled the children out to safety.

They were rushed in private vehicles and ambulances to Hindu Mission Hospital. Eight students were provided treatment, while parents took the rest home. Two students were taken for a CT scan.

What really happened?

There are two conflicting versions about the exact cause of the accident. The driver told traffic police that he lost control when a speeding cargo lorry overtook his van from the right. As he swerved to the left all of a sudden, the van hit the side of wall of the ramp leading towards Irumbuliyur and landed on its side.

 However, schoolchildren told parents at the hospital that as they were meeting each other after the December vacations, they were an excited lot and that one of them had opened a foam spray can, which distracted the driver and that he was driving the vehicle with one hand only. This was confirmed by a staff member of Christ King Matriculation School, Irumbuliyur.

 School authorities told mediapersons that they would bear the medical expenses incurred.  

 Motorists to the rescue

P. Ranganathan, who works in a private company in Tambaram, was an eye witness to the accident. He said he was crossing the railway track to reach Grand Southern Trunk Road, when he saw the van lose control and land on its side.  

K. Padmanabhan and E. Nagaraj, were among the first traffic police officers to reach the spot and, along with people travelling in a share authorickshaw, rushed to help the children. Using an iron rod, they broke open the rear windscreen and pulled out the children.

A number of motorists travelled on the wrong side of the bridge to get to the spot and help. Mr. Padmanabhan sustained an injury on his left knee while pulling out a boy trapped inside.

 Diesel from the fuel tank of the van leaked on to the ramp. Motorists volunteered to dump mud and construction rubble to prevent the possibility of a fire breaking out. As news about the incident spread, anxious parents rushed to the hospital.

The van had been rented out by several parents living in West Tambaram and was owned by Thyagarajan, who had employed Balaji as the vehicle driver.