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14-year-old boy dies as school van topples

Vivek Narayanan
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Six other children injured; this is the second such instance of a student death this month

no lessons learntAn overcrowded autorickshaw ferries schoolchildren near Doveton on Wednesday —Photo: K. Pichumani
no lessons learntAn overcrowded autorickshaw ferries schoolchildren near Doveton on Wednesday —Photo: K. Pichumani

On Wednesday, aday after his 14th birthday, class IX student Deepak met with an untimely end when the private van he was travelling in toppled on Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam Radial Road.

Six others were injured in the accident. Deepak is the son of Janardhanan, who runs a cellphone recharge shop, and Jyothi, a homemaker. He was a student of Vels Vidyasharam in Pallavaram. Every day, he went to school with 15 other students in a private van.

On Wednesday, Saravanan (32), the van owner and driver was heading to the school with the students when he received a call on his cellphone.

He parked the vehicle by the roadside near Pallavaram petrol bunk and asked Mahesh alias Maheshwaran, a new recruit, to drive the children to school. Mahesh was, previously, a lorry driver.

“As the van came down the flyover towards Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam Radial Road, Mahesh tried to overtake a biker, lost control and the van came crashing towards the divider. He jumped out leaving us alone,” said a girl student who was travelling in the van.

The right wheel of the vehicle climbed over the divider and the van was dragged a few feet in that position after which it toppled. Deepak who was sitting in the last row near the window sustained serious injuries on his neck and head. Passers-by rescued the children and sent the seven injured students to a private hospital in Chromepet. Deepak died on the way.

Parents who gathered at the hospital said the van owner Saravanan was a reliable person. “We have been sending our kids in his vehicle for the past many years. He has never been careless before,” said Subramanian, a parent.

A big group gathered at the Chromepet general hospital to mourn the death of the boy. Deepak’s mother, Jyothi, was distraught.

“I asked him to drink a glass of milk before leaving the house, but he refused,” she said. Deepak was good at academics and played cricket, his relatives said. “He was a jovial boy. On Tuesday, I bought him a shirt since it was his birthday. I am shocked to hear about his death,” said his cousin Naren.

The police have detained Saravanan for questioning and are on the lookout for Mahesh. “We will nab him soon,” said Tambaram traffic investigation inspector, Dhinakaran.

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