CHENNAI: A speeding Chevrolet Cruze car driven by a drunk college student, who along with four friends were heading towards Marina Beach, ran amok and killed an auto driver and injured five others, as it rammed into at least six auto rickshaws on Cathedral Road near Stella Maris College in the early hours of Sunday, police said.
This was the same spot where, a year ago, a luxury car- Porsche driven by racer Vikash Anand rammed into an autorickshaw, killing an auto driver in September.
On Sunday, Rajesh (33), the auto-driver, who was sleeping in his vehicle parked on the roadside, was killed on the spot in the impact of the crash. A few other auto drivers, Babu (42), Mohan (41), Perumal (38), Balan (40) and Pandavan (38) all from Arakkonam, who were also sleeping in their parked autos suffered minor injures and were treated at the Royapettah government hospital.
It was a routine of the auto drivers to have dinner at around 12.30 am and come to Cathedral Road and sleep in their vehicles.
On Sunday, Rajesh, called his wife at around 12.30 am, after which he decided to go to Cathedral Road to sleep. Usually, he would sleep at Purasawalkam, but due to the mosquitoes he decided to sleep elsewhere today. He parked his vehicle behind five other autos and slept, when at around 1.20 am, a speeding car rammed into the auto from behind.
Rajesh died on the spot.
“We received a call around 3 am when I rushed to Arakkonam and then reached the city,” said Sampath, father-in-law of the deceased.
Rajesh, the breadwinner of the family is survived by his wife Gayathri and two sons – a seven-year-old and a five-year-old.
Police said there were five students in the rashly driven car out of which the driver and another boy was under the influence of alcohol.
They were apparently returning after a late night booze session and were heading towards the beach when the incident was reported.
K Naveeth (20) a resident of Anna Nagar and a second year B Com student of a private college, who was at the wheel, was found heavily drunk, police said. The other students in the car were identified as R Kiran Kumar (19) R Vishal Rajkumar, (19) N Hari Krishnan (21) and P Vinoth (20). While Kiran Kumar is a BBA student at a deemed university, others are all second-year students of BA History at a popular private college in the city.
Naveeth’s father owns a tea distribution company whereas Kiran Kumar’s father is in the air-conditioning and refrigeration business.
Vishal Rajkumar’s dad works as a superintendent in the Railways while Vinoth’s father is in the transport business. Hari Krishnan is the son of a single mother who works as a nurse in a private hospital; his father is no more.
The Traffic Investigations Wing (Adyar) of Chennai police has booked all five students on charges of drunken driving.
“Most of the auto drivers in the city are from other districts. We come to the city only for a living. We usually ride every alternate day and sleep in the vehicles parked on the road side as we cannot afford to rent a room in the city. With a daily earning of around Rs 300, we manage our food expenses as well as support our family,” said Venkatesan, an auto rickshaw driver.