Mumbai jogger’s road accident: Driver was jet-lagged, sleep deprived, reveals probe

Mumbai jogger’s road accident: Driver was jet-lagged, sleep deprived, reveals probe

The 23-year-old accused Sumer Dharmesh Merchant remanded to judicial custody by the court for 14 days.

Aishwarya IyerUpdated: Thursday, March 23, 2023, 09:07 AM IST
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The car (left) ran over Rajalakshmi Ramakrishnan (right) while she was jogging | Swapnil Sakhare/FPJ

Mumbai: Sumer Dharmesh Merchant, 23, whose speeding car hit Rajakshmi Vijay Ramakrishnan, a 58-year-old jogger and CEO of a tech-firm, on Sunday morning at Worli Sea Face, had returned from an official trip to the US just three days prior to the accident. He works with a firm that hunts talent for Hindi films.

The probe into the case suggests that Merchant was jet-lagged and tired and had not slept properly even after his return. The night before the accident, he hosted a party at his residence at Shankar Mansion in Tardeo, where he consumed gin and sacrificed sleep. On Wednesday, he was remanded to judicial custody by the court for 14 days.

Driver's friends asked him to rest, he insisted on dropping them

Worli police sources said the two friends he was dropping off after the party on Sunday morning asked him to rest but he insisted on giving them a ride. The male friend and the female friend (Riya Bhaitya) reside in Bandra and Dadar, respectively.

A police source said, “Bhatiya, in her statement, said that Merchant looked sleep-deprived. They told him not to drive but he insisted. When he was driving, she told him to slow down as he was speeding.”

Cops suspect driver dozed off at the wheel leading to accident

As per the police source, seconds before the accident, both the friends dozed off, and it’s suspected that Merchant, too, dozed off at the wheel, leading to the accident.

Merchant, according to the police source, hosted the party as his parents were away on a short vacation to Himachal Pradesh. He and his friends first diend at a restaurant and then came to his residence for an afterparty and drinks. They split at around 4am. At 5am, Bhatiya wanted to go back home and Merchant insisted on dropping her.

Merchant remanded to 14-day judicial custody

Meanwhile, Merchant has been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by the court after spending over three days in police remand. He will be sent to the undertrial Arthur Jail. As per jail protocol, every new inmate must take the Rt-PCR test for Covid. However, all government pathology labs were shut on Wednesday owing to Gudi Padwa, so Merchant was kept in police custody.

The police are also waiting for the forensic report – of blood and urine samples – to ascertain drunk driving. Statements of eyewitnesses, friends and family members have been recorded and will be attached to the chargesheet that will be made after the forensic report arrives.

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