By Nirmala Kannangara
Yet another young life has been snatched away by a speeding government vehicle last week not on the road but on the pavement that is earmarked for pedestrians.
A young mother of two was knocked down by a Rubber Development Department jeep bearing registration number 32-2575 opposite Sujatha Vidyalaya at Gangodawila, Nugegoda on June 29 killing the mother instantly and causing seriously injuries to the three year old baby who was fast asleep on her mother’s arm. Although the mother died on the spot it was a miracle that saved baby Dinuki’s life as she was found lying under a vehicle 40 feet away from the scene.
“I was told that my baby daughter was thrown away from my wife’s arms and had fallen on to the bonnet of a moving vehicle. Luckily the driver had managed to stop his vehicle on time; if not Dinuki would have been run over by that vehicle,” said Sajith Neluketiya – the grieving father.
Thirty four year old Chami Anuradha Gomes would have not thought even in her wildest dreams that she would not be able to buy ‘ambarella’ for little Anudi when she promised her daughter amberalla from Nugegoda a few seconds before this unfortunate incident.
“When I asked ammi for some ‘ambarella’ from the achcharu uncle near the school, she promised to buy it from Nugegoda as it was late for the tuition class,” little Anudi told The Sunday Leader.
However little Anudi was deprived not only of ambarella but deprived of a doting mother for the rest of her life because of a reckless driver.
Chami had left home with her baby daughter around 1 p.m. on this fateful day to Sujatha Vidyalaya to take Anudi for her tuition class in Nugegoda. Although Chami always fed the elder daughter in school before taking her to the class, that day for an unknown reason she has decided to go to the tuition class and feed her daughter there.
“Every Wednesday ammi comes with nangi to take me for tuition and thatthi comes to pick us up in the afternoon. Although I expected ammi to feed me before going to the class, she did not. When I asked why she does not feed me she insisted that we should go to the class first where I could have my lunch. Had ammi stayed a few minutes to feed me, we would have missed that vehicle and ammi would have been with us still,” eight year old Anudi said.
When asked whether she could remember as to how her mother was knocked down by the speeding jeep, little Anudi said that she cannot remember as to how it happened. “I only could remember walking towards the Gamsaba Junction holding my mother’s hand on the pavement,” she said.
However an eye witness recounted how Chami was knocked down by the speeding jeep. “Since it was 1.30pm with the school traffic, the vehicles were moving slowly on both sides of the High-level Road. A jeep tooting the horn came at a high speed with flashing lights from the Maharagama side. We all thought that it was a backup vehicle of a VVIP. In order to avoid the traffic the driver overtook the slow moving vehicles from the left over the pavement which is a narrow strip. Ignoring the mother who was walking with her two children, the speeding vehicle, knocked down the three pedestrians and sped away,” said an eye witness speaking on conditions of anonymity. Little Anudi and baby Dinuki were both hospitalized for injuries. Though Anudi was discharged the following day, baby Dinuki was still warded with a fractured forehead.
Meanwhile Chami’s only brother Vajira Gomes was in shock at his sister’s untimely death and accused the police of trying to cover up the incident. “Why do the Mirihana police trying to defend the driver of the jeep that killed my sister. Was it because the jeep in question is a government vehicle? We do not expect the police to be biased but we want justice,” said Vajira. But a spokesperson for the Mirihana police told The Sunday Leader that the driver was remanded and would be produced in court on July 22. “It was a jeep with many technical problems. According to the driver, he had taken the jeep from a garage in Homagama and was on his way to office when this has happened,” the spokesperson said. Refuting claims Director Administration Rubber Development Department Pushpa Gamage told The Sunday Leader that it was not the vehicle’s fault but the driver’s. “Being the officer in charge of transport I know there were a technical problem with the vehicle. It was put into the garage to fix the beadings. This is a driver with 22 years experience. All this has happened because he had overtaken the vehicles from the left,” she said.