National car racing champion Ashwin Sundar was only 28 when a tragic accident on Saturday took away his young life. In the car with him was his 26-year-old wife Niveditha, a final year medical student, who was working as a house surgeon at Ramachandra Hospital. She did not survive the accident either.
The couple had been married just last year and were planning to go on holiday next month.
The family is in shock and so is the motor sport fraternity of the country.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, around 1.50am, Ashwin and his wife Niveditha were returning to their home in MRC Colony from the Leela Palace hotel. The accident occurred in Pattinapakkam which is on the way.
Ashwin's car, a BMW, reportedly hit a speed breaker at a high speed and he lost control of the vehicle. The car then hit a tree and burst into flames. Tragically, the couple were trapped inside the vehicle and could not escape.
Police told The News Minute that the fire and rescue department was called in at 2.15am. But by then, it was too late.
Image: Ashwin at an event/ Facebook.com
As the charred bodies were taken for post-mortem at the Royapettah Government Hospital in Chennai, those known to them could not contain their tears. None of them could have foreseen this cruel twist of fate that took away two promising lives.
Confirming that the vehicle had been driven at a high speed, the police told TNM that a complaint has been filed at the traffic police station in Adyar. The case has been filed under two sections of the IPC: 279 (Rash driving or riding on a public way) and 304(A) (causing death by negligence).
Though many on social media have wondered if this was a case of drunken driving, those close to Ashwin say that he was a teetotaler.
A police inspector from the traffic police department added that that the reason for the vehicle bursting into flames is still unknown. “The scientific experts have been called in to find the reason for the car bursting into flames. The car was going at a high speed, so he lost control when the car hit a speed-breaker,” he said.
Ashwin's uncle, Ravikumar, could barely contain his grief as he shared the family's shock at the incident. The racer was his parents' only son and the bereaved family is at a loss for words. "We are very upset about the incident. We are very proud of him, he was a passionate car racer and has won many awards,” said an emotional Ravikumar.
Friends and colleagues remember Ashwin as an inspiration, a young man who had a bright future ahead of him.
Among them is Rajkumar, also a racer, who met Ashwin during a sporting event many years ago.
“He was a genuine and honest person. I spoke to him last month – he had won an MRF round, he was very happy,” Rajkumar said, recollecting memories of his dear friend. Rajkumar added that Ashwin's death was a big loss to the racing sport.
“He could train so many people and was an upcoming racer,” he said.
Image: Racer Ashwin Sundar with actor Ajith/ Facebook.com
Sarath Kumar, a Moto GP bike racer said, "He was a good friend. I've known him for a very long time... before I even started racing. He was an inspiration, a very passionate bike and car racer."
Sarath Kumar said that he was shocked to hear of the accident this morning: "It is a big loss to motorsports and personally, I lost a good friend."
Vicky Chandhok, former chief, Federation of Motor Sports of India, said, "For now, my heart goes out to the parents, we should give them privacy as they have lost their only son and daughter-in-law at such a young age. It is a very big shock for the motorsport community."
Calling Ashwin a "talented and quick rider", Chandhok says he has known him from the time he started racing. "I know his family also very well. It was very disturbing to see the video being circulated on social media. I'm shocked about the incident and feel it is very unfortunate," he said.
The cremation services for the young couple will be carried out on Sunday.
(Edited by Rakesh Mehar and Sowmya Rajendran)