A botched rescue after Zirakpur crash

  • Gurpreet Singh Chhina and Amandeep Dixit, Hindustan Times, Zirakpur/Dappar
  • Updated: Feb 12, 2015 08:26 IST

The car crash on the Zirakpur flyover that has claimed lives of three youths has laid bare the tall claims of the district authorities in dealing with accidents on city roads and highways.

Not only did the police fail in acting precisely and timely, the Dappar toll plaza operated by GMR Ambala-Chandigarh Express Private Limited, despite being duty bound to provide first-aid to victims as part of its contract with the government, failed to even make an appearance.

Police falter on many counts

On February 6, a Hyundai i20 driven by a 16-year-old collided with a Mitsubishi Pajero being driven by Mankirat Singh, 17, further hitting another i20, an auto-rickshaw and a motorcycle on the other side of the road around 1:30pm.

FIR complainant Mani Saxena called the police control room at 100 and the 108 ambulance service. Even as at least eight persons lay seriously injured, the police ambulance reached the spot only after 20 minutes, while the 108 ambulance never appeared.

As it turned out, the police ambulance, instead of being a full-fledged vehicle capable of attending to victims, was a small van with a capacity of only two. Consequently, Punjab Police cop Neeraj Kumar just lifted motorcyclist Bhupinder Singh Thapa and auto-rickshaw driver Amit, who were ostensibly more severely injured, and started to rush them to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.

Meanwhile, he heard people yelling from the road below the flyover that a man had fallen down, following which Kumar called the highway patrolling team only to learn that the patrolling vehicle stationed near Dera Bassi was undergoing engine repair.

It was then that a highway patrolling vehicle (PB-12-F7087) from Banur was pressed into service, but it could reach the spot only 25 minutes later. Worse, instead of rushing the victim, Mankirat Singh, to a nearby hospital, the patrolling team took him to the Dera Bassi civil hospital, which is 15 minutes away.

Even as the 16-year-old i20 driver had already fled the spot, onlookers rushed other victims to nearby hospitals in private cars.

A head constable of the patrolling team said since February 5, their patrolling vehicle was under repair, and they had been using a Maruti Swift car for duty as they did not have any alternative vehicle, adding that when he got a call on February 6 about the accident, they sent the Banur highway patrolling vehicle to attend to the victims.

Urgency ignored

Not taking seriously the condition of Mankirat, who had suffered a 40-feet fall, the patrolling team staff took him to Dera Bassi, while quicker treatment could have been provided at a local hospital in Zirakpur. Dera Bassi senior medical officer SK Mittal said Mankirat died due to internal bleeding in the head.

Sanjeev Kumar, a passerby where Mankirat had fallen, said as Singh was breathing he was shouting at the top of his voice to get police attention, but the police vehicle drove to the flyover where more victims were injured. He added that it was only 25 minutes later that a police vehicle attended to Mankirat.

A police official said they preferred to admit victims in Dera Bassi or Chandigarh as Zirakpur hospital fell under Dhakoli, and the railway crossing and traffic lights consumed time.

Accused yet to nabbed

Four days after the accident, the police are yet to apprehend the 16-year-old boy who was driving the Hyundai i20. Zirakpur SHO Deepinder Singh said the police would take the teenager in custody as soon as he was discharged from the hospital.

However, case investigation officer Hansraj Singh said they had been unable to determine the boy’s location so far.

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