SIX COLLEGE students were killed when the car they were travelling in turned turtle after the driver lost control near Kamshet, on the Pune Mumbai Expressway, at around 3 am on Tuesday. The accident took place when the six students were on their way back to Pune from Mumbai, said police.
Pune rural police have identified the deceased as Aditya Deepak Bhandarkar (18), a resident of Bavdhan in Pune, Abhishek Arunkumar Roy (21), a resident of Pashan, Yash Ajay Shirali (18) of Bavdhan, Akshay Dattatray Bhilare (20), a resident of Kothrud, Jokim John Samuel (19), a resident of Punawale in Mulshi and Umesh Girish Patil (24), a resident of Kothrud in Pune.
Assistant Inspector Raosaheb Khedekar of Kamshet police station, who is investigating the case, said, “The accident took place at the kilometre mark 73/300, near Kamshet, on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The examination of the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz car by the inspectors of the Regional Transport Office has found traces of colour of another vehicle on this car. This suggests that the vehicle was at a very high speed and either it brushed against another vehicle while trying to overtake it or hit another big vehicle from behind and sped out of control. It somersaulted twice or thrice before turning turtle and coming to a standstill.”
API Khedekar added, “The car MH-14-EU-7038 is registered in the name of Ajay Shirali, father of Yash. As of now, we are not sure who was driving the car, as they were rushed to a nearby government health centre in an ambulance. Five were declared dead at the health centre. The sixth person was rushed to Lokmanya Hospital in Nigdi. He succumbed to the injuries during treatment.” Khedekar said that four of the youths were students of Sinhagad College and one from Suryadatta Institute in Kothrud while the sixth victim’s college has not been ascertained yet.
There were contradictory reports about the place from where they were returning at 3 am. According to police’s one version they were coming to Pune from Mumbai after dropping a friend at the airport and the other version suspects them to be returning from Lonavala.
Additional superintendent of police Rajkumar Shinde said, “We are yet to ascertain from where these youths were returning. Their parents are in a state of shock and we will be speaking to them soon. Meanwhile, we are checking the locations of their cellphones and using CCTV footages to find out where had they gone.”
“During the spot examination of the car, we have found a packet containing a small amount of what is suspected to be marijuana. But the primary autopsy reports of all the six persons do not point to consumption of alcohol or any narcotic substance,” added Shinde.
Dr Shrikant V. Deshpande, Principal of Shrimati Kashibai Navale College of Commerce, an institute of the Sinhagad group, said that all the four deceased students were enrolled for the BBA course. “Two students had been promoted to the next class, second year of BBA while two students were continuing in first year BBA. I have learnt also that two of the deceased students were good sportsmen and played in the college’s football team. It is a sad incident to have lost such young lives.”
Early morning hours a death trap on Expressway
In the wake of the accident that claimed lives of six college students on Tuesday near Kamshet, police and experts say that the early hours —between 2 am and 6 am—witness large number of accidents owing to people falling asleep while driving and also due to low visibility during that time.
In the past, both Pune-Mumbai Expressway and the Old Highway have seen several accidents during the wee hours. Amol Tambe, superintendent of police with State Highway Police, said, “We have observed that large number of accidents take place between 2 am and 6 am. It is during this time period, drivers tend to fall asleep while driving.”
A highway police officer said there is a proposal in the pipeline to start speed regulation during night hours. “We would be calculating the time a vehicle takes to cover the distance between two toll booths. If the timing is found to be less than the standard time, suggesting that the vehicle oversped beyond the limit, the driver will be fined. This drive will start soon.”
Tanmay Pendse, who lost his brother and Marathi actor Akshay Pendse in an Expressway accident in 2012 and has since then done an extensive study of E-way accidents, said, “The early hours of the day witness more accidents due to poor visibility. A solution to prevent mishaps, especially when drivers tend to be sleepy, is rumbler strips. There is a misconception that rumbler strips are for limiting the speed but they are actually meant to keep the drivers awake especially on long stretches of roads. These strips should be laid at regular intervals.” Pendse added, “There is also a requirement for parking bays and refreshments centres at regular intervals on the highways.”