In a horrific accident on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link early on Wednesday, five toll plaza staff were killed and eight others injured when an SUV crashed into an accident site and hit three stationary cars and an ambulance. The accident happened at 3am, police said. They have detained the SUV driver and will verify if he was drunk.
The accident took place between poles 76 and 78 on the south-bound carriageway of the sea link. CCTV footage of the accident went viral showing an ambulance and three cars stationary on the bridge when the speeding SUV rams into them.
The injured have been admitted to various civic and private hospitals. One of them is critical.
According to the police, at around 2:40 am, the front tyre of a Maruti Swift car heading towards Worli burst and the driver lost control and hit the railing on the left. “Staff at the sea link informed the toll plaza and six staff members, an ambulance, and a towing vehicle reached the spot," Inspector Ashok Raskar of the Worli traffic police said.
The staffers were identified as Rajendra Singh, 40; Gajraj Singh, 42; Chetan Kadam, 36; Satendra Singh, 35; and Hemant Toraskar, 56. The ambulance driver was identified as Somnath Salve, 32. The towing vehicle driver was Krishna Yadav.
Police said the ambulance and the towing vehicle were parked in front of the Swift and the ambulance driver and the six toll plaza staff were standing next to the car, trying to help the injured out. Two more cars, a Baleno and a Mercedes, stopped ahead of the vehicles to help them. Two doctors, Ashwini and Ankush Nair, were travelling in the Mercedes.
"A few minutes later, at 2:53 am, a speeding Hyundai Creta SUV rammed into the Swift from behind, hitting the staff and the cars parked ahead," said Deputy Commissioner of Police (zone 3) Yogesh Gupta.
CCTV footage shows a staffer with an LED traffic light stick trying to alert oncoming vehicles, but the SUV kept heading towards him, upon which he jumped towards the railing to avoid getting hit.
Four of the five killed were toll plaza staff: Rajendra Singh, Gajraj Singh, Kadam and Satendra Singh. Ambulance driver Salve was also killed. Toraskar suffered a head injury and is in critical condition at Lilavati Hospital.
Reports stated that traffic from Bandra towards Worli was closed after the accident and resumed later.
An official from the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation said that safety precautions are in place on the sea link, from appropriate speed limits to speed cameras, adequate signage, adequate lighting and rumble strips. At the site, the emergency light bar placed on top of the ambulance was also on with all vehicles parked in the leftmost lane.
“It is evident from the camera footage that the SUV was at high speed,” the official said. “Despite having speed limits as per internationally acceptable standards and Indian driving habits, motorists tend to speed. We will analyze to see if additional rumble strips can be put to ensure this doesn’t happen.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state Chief Minister Eknath Shinde expressed grief at the deaths.
“Pained by the loss of lives due to an accident on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai. Condolences to the bereaved families. I hope those who have been injured have a speedy recovery," Modi tweeted.
"We share in the grief of the families of those who lost their lives in the accident on Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Efforts are being made to improve the condition of the injured as soon as possible. Further investigation is underway and action will be taken," tweeted the CM.
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