A goods autorickshaw knocked down a four-year-old boy in Chromepet on Thursday morning. The vehicle, parked in neutral gear with the engine left running, started moving all of a sudden and hit Thamizharasan, who died on the spot.

Traffic police said Thamizharasan, the eldest of two children of Balamurugan and Muthulakshmi, lived in Chinnaparur village in Vridhachalam, Cuddalore district.

As the family’s income was meagre, Muthulakshmi’s mother, Malarkodi, decided to bring her daughter and grandchildren to Chennai.

Malarkodi works at a garment manufacturing unit in Keelkattalai and lives with Rajendran, a relative, on Vembuli Amman Koil Street in Pallavaram. She had gone to her native place, a few days ago, to bring Muthulakshmi and her children, Thamizharasan and 2-year-old Vadivukkarasi, to Chennai.

At 4 a.m. on Thursday, they reached Tambaram where Rajendran was waiting to pick them up. The five of them — three adults and two children — travelled on a moped and when they reached Chromepet, decided to stop for tea near the bus stop.

Malarkodi, Muthulakshmi and the two children sat on the road near the tea stall while Rajendran got tea.

A Piaggio Ape vehicle was parked a few metres away from them. It was put on neutral gear with the engine running.

All of a sudden, the vehicle began moving and knocked down Thamizharasan, dragging him for a few metres. The boy’s head and face came under the chassis of the vehicle and he died on the spot. The rest of the family escaped unhurt.

He was taken to Tambaram Taluk Government Hospital in Chromepet, where his body was handed over to parents after post-mortem. The body was taken to their native village later in the day.

Traffic police said Natarajan (29) of Tuticorin district, who drove the vehicle, was arrested under Section 304 (a) of the Indian Penal Code for causing death due to negligence. On Thursday, he was standing in for the regular driver who did not report for work. Natarajan did not have a driving licence, the police said.

The vehicle was poorly maintained and did not have a number plate in the front. It was engaged to distribute packaged milk to restaurants and tea stalls in and around Chromepet.

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