The life of a 36-year-old software professional was cut short Tuesday night, after a Metro Rail crane rammed his two-wheeler on Anna Salai.

The police registered a case under section 304A of the Indian Penal Code (causing death by negligence) and took Sanjay Kumar Prajapat, driver of the hydra crane into custody.

According to police, S. Karthikeyan a freelance software professional, residing in CIT Nagar, Nandanam, was returning home from Egmore via Anna Salai around 11.30 p.m. when the accident took place. Police said the crane, proceeding from Nandanam towards Gemini, took a U-turn at the Anna Salai-Bharatidasan Salai junction. Just as it turned, it rammed Karthikeyan’s two-wheeler.

According to Karthikeyan’s family, the driver fled the scene and it was a reporter from Sun TV who rushed him to the nearby Apollo Specialty Hospital.

Karthikeyan suffered multiple injuries on his head and hip and was declared dead by doctors. His body was taken to the Government Royapettah Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

The driver, a labourer from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, said he has been working on the project for a year now and gets a monthly salary of Rs. 10,000.

The stretch of Anna Salai, from Nandanam to the Teynampet signal is a one-way zone, except for a service lane, which has select vehicles coming from the opposite direction.

However, huge cranes and other vehicles used for Metro Rail construction work ply two-way between 10.30 p.m. and 5.30 a.m., when the volume of traffic is relatively low. Often, trucks transporting construction material in and out of Metro Rail sites are seen on Anna Salai after midnight.

According to the traffic investigation wing of the police, it was negligence on the part of the crane driver that caused the accident. The rear of the two-wheeler, now at the traffic investigation wing, Soundarapandian Angadi Police station, Pondy Bazaar, was broken. Karthikeyan’s helmet hung from the handle bar. Outside the station stood the massive hydra crane, a vehicle used by Gammon – one of the contractors engaged by Chennai Metro Rail Limited.

Police said it was not clear if Karthikeyan was wearing a helmet, but family members and friends, who were waiting at the mortuary in Royapettah, insisted he never rode his two-wheeler without his helmet.

Qualified as an engineer, Karthikeyan used to work for a software company till three years ago. “When he was confident of working by himself, he quit and started taking up independent projects. He was doing very well,” said S. Muthukumar, his brother. Karthikeyan is survived by his wife and a two-year-old daughter.

Karthikeyan was very popular among his friends, as was evident by the huge crowd that had gathered outside the mortuary. This is the third fatal accident related to Metro Rail construction in the city.