Another Highways contract worker injured; driver might have dozed off behind the wheel

A Highways contract worker was killed and another was seriously injured when a 40-foot-long container lorry rammed a group of huts in Ernavoor near Madhavaram early on Thursday morning.

The police said the lorry driver, who is absconding, might have dozed off behind the wheel at the time of the accident.

The lorry driver was heading towards the container freight depot in Manali after picking up a consignment from the Chennai port on Wednesday night. When the vehicle was on the Ernavoor bridge, the driver is said to have lost control.

The vehicle broke through the concrete railing and fell on the roadside where a group of huts had been erected by contract workers employed by the State highways department.

“The accident occurred around 1 a.m. on Thursday, when all the workers and their family were sleeping. The lorry finally landed in a pit, nearly 30 feet deep, at the extreme end of the bridge,” said a police officer.

The driver might have been drowsy as he, like most drivers of container lorries, would have waited for several days near the port to get clearance to enter the facility, the police said.

While one worker J. Selvaraj (45), a native of Kallakuruchi, died on the spot, S. Chinnaswamy (48), another contract worker and also from Kallakuruchi, sustained serious head injuries and lost both his legs.

More than 30 contract workers, who were living with their families in nearly a dozen huts, escaped with minor injuries.

Along with other workers, a police team led by sub-inspector of Madhavaram traffic police shifted the injured workers and their family members to the hospital.

The body of Selvaraj was taken to Government Stanley Hospital for post-mortem. Doctors at the hospital said the condition of Chinnaswamy was improving and he was out of danger.

The contract workers — all from Kallakuruchi town — had worked for many State-sponsored government projects in the city for the past 15 years. They had recently been employed by the highways department for the construction of stormwater drains on both sides of the five-km-long Tiruvottiyur High Road between the tollgate and Ernavoor bridge.

“As the locality is poorly lit, the lorry driver might not have noticed the huts near the bridge,” said G. Kandan, one of the workers.

A Madhavaram traffic investigation team has registered a case under section 304A (rash and negligent driving) of IPC.

More In: Chennai | News