The fatalities in Friday’s accident in Mumbai could have been much higher, as around 40 people were sleeping on the pavement Kamlesh Kamble drove his car over, said local residents.
The others were saved only because the car lost momentum and came to a stop, they said.
“The vehicle dragged the Upadhays for around 10 feet on the footpath before it stopped. Many more could have died if it had run on, ” said Kundan Sakat, who was sleeping in a slum nearby and woke up after hearing the commotion.
Many of the pavement dwellers had lost their houses in a demolition drive around a week ago, locals said. Residents of the slums near the road also slept on the footpath to escape the heat, said Sakat.
Sunil Upadhay, who died in the accident, did odd jobs and was sleeping the footpath along with his cousin as their house was very hot.
“Sunil had dinner at 9pm and later went to sleep outside as our house is small and very hot,” said Kanwar, his elder brother who works as a sweeper with the civic body.
The accident took place just after a turning, said the police. The tired Kamble may have lost control over the vehicle as it was coming down a slope and was at a high speed, the police said.
“Both the rear wheels of the jeep are punctured and the front right wheel has also been damaged,” said an officer from the VB Nagar police station.
The police have booked Kamble under sections 304 A (causing death by negligence), 279 (rash driving or riding on a public way), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code and under section 134 (a) (b) of the Motor Vehicles Act for fleeing the spot instead of providing immediate help to the accident victim.
He will be produced in court on Saturday.