Preliminary investigations into the horrific Tirupur road accident that led to the death of 19 persons on Thursday, has revealed that 38-year-old Hemaraj, the driver of the Benz container lorry lost control of vehicle after he dozed off at its wheel. Hemaraj, according to police, fell asleep at least 150 metre ahead of the site of the accident, leaving the heavy vehicle to veer dangerously off its path and slam into the median.
Hemaraj came to his senses when he was jolted by the impact only to see the container from his vehicle, detach and slam into a Volvo Kerala RTC bus on the opposite side.
"He is very reclusive. He has a family too and the he is struggling to understand that his actions caused so many deaths," says Deputy Commissioner of Tirupur V Badrinarayanan. "The whole incident was unfortunate and things have happened at the wrong place at wrong time," he adds.
The lorry was filled with tiles and was travelling from Kerala to Tamil Nadu on the opposite lane. According to the investigation, the driver had stopped the vehicle in Coimbatore, just an hour away from the site of accident to drink some tea.
"He had done this to refresh himself. Despite this he fell asleep on the wheel. From what the Regional Transport Office has found, he seems to have drifted at least 150 metres before the site of collision," says the police officer. "This could happen to anyone driving on the highway without company," he empathises.
The driver has however been booked under section 304 A (Causing death by negligence.â€”Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal code. The police are contemplating booking him under section 304(II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).
"We are yet to find if this was a fresh load or if he had been overworked through multiple nights. If he was, then it would call for a larger policy change," says the Deputy Commissioner.
While 19 persons were killed in the accident, nine others suffered from grievous injuries and were admitted to Tirupur government hospital.