By Nirmala Kannangara – Photos by Asoka Fernando
Namali Perera – the mother of 17 year old Dinuka Amali Fernando is lying on her hospital bed without knowing the fate of her only child. Both mother and daughter were run over by a drunken driver at Hendala, Wattala on Saturday, November 13.
Namali who received minor physical injuries but is undergoing major mental worries is under treatment at Ward Four, at the Colombo North Teaching Hospital (Ragama General Hospital) unaware of what has happened to the apple of her eye — her only child. She desperately wants to know Dinuka’s condition.
Not only has she pleaded with the doctors and the medical staff at Ward Four, she is begging her daughter’s friends who come to see her as well to update her on Dinuka’s condition. Knowing how frustrated she is, the dedicated doctors, and the medical staff at Ward Four and Amali’s school friends leave no stone unturned to comfort this innocent mother. “The doctors, nurses the minor staff and my daughter’s friends are very kind to me and update me about my daughter’s condition. I was told that my daughter too could leave hospital with me as she is recovering fast,” Namali told The Sunday Leader with a ray of hope in her eyes. But Namali’s daughter, Dinuka Amali Fernando who is studying for her Advance Level examination at the Good Shepherd Convent, Nayakkanda has received several fractures to both her legs and to the hip bone which are confining her to bed.
“On this fateful day I came to Hendala to drop my daughter at the bus stand as she was rushing to her AAT class. It was around six in the morning and both of us crossed the road and were walking side by side in front of the Hendala temple when I was thrown to the ground with a big thud and went flying towards the temple wall. I tried to get up but since I failed, I looked around to see as to what has happened and saw my daughter lying in the middle of the road looking at me. Then only I realised that both of us had been knocked down by a white coloured car.
I then cried for help. In the meantime I saw the driver getting down and walking towards us. Suddenly people started coming towards us and seeing the big crowd the driver ran towards the car. Realising that he was going to speed away in the car in order to escape from the people I shouted at him not to move the vehicle as my daughter was lying just in front of the front right wheel. At the same moment I saw my daughter signaling to the driver not to come. Despite all these requests the car was driven over my daughter once again by this inhumane man,” she cried. According to the mother it was one of the bus drivers on route number 107 that had used his bus to block the road and prevent the driver from speeding away from the accident scene. “If not for that bus driver we wouldn’t have been able to catch the driver. Then I saw my daughter in a pool of blood and I asked the onlookers to take her to the hospital. One kind trishaw driver with the help of the others put my daughter into his trishaw and some other people came and lifted me and put me into the same trishaw and took us to the Ragama police,” Namali added. Namali further described as to how her daughter told her in a weak tone how much the wounds were hurting her.
“Blood was oozing from my daughter’s legs and right ear and her right hand was burnt. I did not know what to do and that was the last time I saw my daughter. When I regained consciousness I was on the hospital bed,” said Namali.
Namali’s husband who is a room boy at the Jetwing Beach, Negombo meanwhile told The Sunday Leader that he will take legal action against the driver who knocked down his wife and caused severe injuries to his daughter. “Although I am not wealthy I will take this reckless driver to court. Let the law enforcement authorities punish this criminal. I do not want parents to suffer unnecessarily because of reckless and drunken drivers,” Jude Fernando told The Sunday Leader. Although she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) following the accident she has been transferred to the Emergency Treatment Unit (ETU) on Tuesday.
When The Sunday Leader visited Amali at the ETU she was on a ventilator and was in much pain. However she was longing to have either her mother or father by her side although no one is allowed to be with the patients. Amali who has been very popular even among her school friends has not been left alone even in the hospital. All her friends in Grade 12A Commerce were waiting outside the ETU to take turns to see their friend. Among them were Jacqueline, Delumi, Anusha, Devaki, Nevanjana, Nabina, Sadeepa, Sandunika, Madusha and many others who have never missed to go see Amali during the visiting hours.
“She is a perfect child, a house captain and is extremely studious. When we heard about Amali’s accident we were all shocked and could not believe what was happening. Her absence in school was terrible and even the teachers were saddened when we broke the news to them. We will be with Amali during this difficult time and will help her in any way we can, to get her well as soon as possible,” the friends said. Though Amali is in poor health and is on ventilator she still wants her mother or father by her side at the ETU. When The Sunday Leader paid a visit to Amali to find out how she was she was speechless for a moment and tried to mutter a few words which did not come out of her mouth. But in a whisper she was able to say that both her legs were giving immense pain. Though Amali is lying on the ETU bed she was still longing to see her friends.
“What has happened to my legs? They are giving me unbearable pain. And my back is hurting terribly” she said. When asked as to why Amali was getting fever on and off, one male nurse told The Sunday Leader that it could be due to an infection. “We are monitoring Amali’s condition as she is getting high fever on and off. This could be due to an infection caused by one of her wounds and once it is diagnosed we will start to give her some strong antibiotic to bring her temperature down,” he said. Meanwhile Dr. Jayanath of the ETU told The Sunday Leader that she would be able to put her feet down and walk with the support of a walker within six months. “Fractures caused to her leg bones and hip bone would take time to heal. That also depends how her body reacts to the medicines given. If complications persist then she would have to stay a little longer in bed but I cannot say with certainty how long it would take for Amali to go back to school and continue with her studies,” Dr. Jayanath said.
Meanwhile Traffic OIC – Wattala Police, SI N.A. Kulawardena told The Sunday Leader that the driver was under the influence of liquor and was returning home after an overnight party. “The suspect, Haren Sathasivam, a resident of Wattala was under the influence of liquor at the time of the accident. He was remanded and will be produced in court on November 23,” SI Kulawardena said.