An eight-year-old boy was killed when a state-run bus rammed into a Mahindra van on the East Coast Road (ECR) on Monday.

The accident occurred around 11 a.m. at Poonthandalam near Kalpakkam, around 70 km south of Chennai. Police are looking for the bus driver who was still absconding at the time of going to press.

On Monday morning, 15 persons from Pudhupattinam village near Kalpakkam, who had come to attend a funeral, hired a van and were on their way to Chennai to reserve tickets at the Egmore railway station for a journey to their home town in Tirunelveli. R. Ganeshan (35), father of the deceased and a van driver, was at the wheel.

The police said the bus driver tried to cross the bridge before the van, which was coming from the opposite direction towards Chennai. In the impact, the rear of the van was completely damaged.

Shivakumar (8), a class IV student, died on the spot while S. Dinesh (24), K. Suganya (20), H. Priya (19) and K. Pandaiyan (60) — all of them seated in the rear of the van — were seriously injured and admitted at the Chettinad Hospital in Kelambakkam. The body of Shivakumar was handed over to his parents after the post-mortem at the Chengalpet Medical College Hospital.

The police said that rash driving by the bus driver was the reason for the accident as the bus, proceeding from CMBT at Koyembedu to Puducherry, was speeding at around 110 kmph at the time of the accident, as against the stipulated speed limit on the stretch of 40 kmph.

“Despite the bridge being narrower than the road, the bus driver tried to cross it before the van could take the bridge. Unfortunately, the bus driver misjudged the distance of the van from the bridge and the space available on the bridge,” said a police officer, who is part of the investigating team. The Sadras police have filed a case under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code for rash driving.               

The ECR, a 11-year-old express highway that connects the city with Puducherry and coastal districts, including Cuddalore, lacks a median, reflectors and safety steel railings on both sides.

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