Grieving family, friends gather at Royapettah mortuary; CMRL says police will look into accident

The accident on Anna Salai, in which a motorist died on Tuesday after a Metro Rail crane rammed his two-wheeler, has put the spotlight on one of the busiest roads of the city.

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The stretch of Anna Salai from Nandanam to Teynampet signal turned a death trap for S. Karthikeyan, when he was returning to his home in Nandanam around 11.30 p.m.

Crane driver Sanjay Kumar Prajapat was proceeding from one metro station site to another, and took a U-turn at the junction near Bharatidasan Salai, at which point the accident occurred.

Karthikeyan’s two-wheeler was later taken to the traffic investigation wing, Soundarapandian Angadi Police station, Pondy Bazaar, where its rear was found damaged. His 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 on.

A huge crowd gathered outside the Government Royapettah Hospital mortuary on Wednesday, where Karthikeyan’s body had been taken for a post-mortem examination. His grieving family and friends said he was popular and beloved.

“We all played a game of cricket in Triplicane last evening. This is unbelievable,” said D. Gnanasekaran, a childhood friend. Karthikeyan grew up in Chintadripet and moved to Nandanam some years ago.

“But he always made it a point to stay in touch with all of us and he was our source of joy. If any of us was low, he would cheer us up and insist that we smile. We will miss him dearly,” said Francis, another friend.

The driver, Sanjay Kumar Prajapat, hailing from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, who has been taken into custody was seated all alone at the police station. He was waiting for a representative from Gammon to come.

“I came here to make a living and support my family, all of whom are in UP. I don’t understand the local language and don’t know what the legal procedure is,” he said in Hindi.

This is the third fatal accident related to involving equipment or a vehicle used for Metro Rail construction. Chennai Metro Rail Limited officials maintained that since the accident was not on a metro rail site, it would be treated as a regular road accident which the police would look into.

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