When the 15-year-old schoolboy was handed the car keys neither he nor his mother had an inkling of the consequences. Their trip was going to be to a short one to the nearby supermarket in Dematagoda, but it ended by snatching the lives of a 42-year-old woman and her 10-year-old daughter at a pedestrian crossing. [...]


His mum tossed him the car keys … and death lay ahead


When the 15-year-old schoolboy was handed the car keys neither he nor his mother had an inkling of the consequences.


Their trip was going to be to a short one to the nearby supermarket in Dematagoda, but it ended by snatching the lives of a 42-year-old woman and her 10-year-old daughter at a pedestrian crossing.

Police investigations, detailed at a coronial inquiry last Sunday, revealed the schoolboy was in the habit of driving the car and that, on the day of the accident, he had been speeding.Both he and his mother are now on remand.

Buddhika Prasanna Kahawalage, 27, a trishaw driver who witnessed the January 16 accident, said it happened around 8.50 p.m. He had been seated outside his house facing the Baseline Road when he noticed a white car speeding towards Dematagoda.

He noticed a black car coming alongside and thought they were competing with each other.

“The vehicles reached the zebra crossing but did not slow down,” he said. “The black car evaded the people coming from the right-hand side while the white car hit the mother and child, tossing them onto the road,” he explained.

Buddhika points to where one of the victim’s lay

Police investigations showed the little girl had been thrown 41 feet from the place of impact while the mother was thrown 20 feet. The car eventually stopped 50 feet away.

“I ran up to the injured people with my wife. The mother appeared to be dead but the child seemed to move so my wife, with help of the other people, stopped a trishaw and sent the child to hospital,” he said.

Mr. Kahawalage says a teenage boy got out of the white car and into a black car that sped away from the location. The police were told that the boy had left, fearing he would be attacked by the crowd that had gathered.

Residents claimed attempts were made by the boy’s relatives to say the white vehicle had been driven by someone else. The white car was attacked by bystanders and its rear window smashed by stoning.

Tension ran high with the belief that the driver might evade arrest but the Dematagoda police arrested the boy the same night.

Mr. Kahawalage’s sister, Priyanka, said the woman and child who were hit and killed, 42-year-old Anula Weerasinghe and 10-year-old Rashmika, had been walking home to Dematagoda after visiting a relative at Sri Nigrodharama Mawatha.

She said the sole surviving member of the family was a 20-year-old elder daughter. The dead woman’s husband had died some time ago and she had been earning a living by working at a cleaning service.

The site of the accident is a deathtrap, mostly at night, as 15-20 people have been killed there, another resident, Deepika Hemachandra, said.

Motorists who regularly used the road said one reasons for the frequent accidents at night was that there are large trees in the area and there was little lighting, and no warning of a pedestrian crossing.

Ms. Hemachandra said even though the crossing is used by students of three nearby schools as well as people on Sri Nigrodharama Mawatha it had no traffic lights or even yellow lights indicating a crossing was ahead.

Three days after the accident, Road Development Authority workers put up lights to illuminate the area.Police said they had previously told the council to trim the overgrown trees but no action had been taken.

Last month, a motorcyclist was killed in that location when a tree fell on him as he sheltered there from the rain.

Victims: Mother and daughter

Crossings are deadly

DIG Senaratne

A fatal accident occurs every five days at pedestrian crossings. Last year, 77 people were killed at crossings, a sharp increase from 2014 when 58 such fatal accidents took place.

One of the main causes of the accidents was lack of concentration by motorists and the use of mobile phones while driving, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Traffic) Amarasiri Senaratne said.

‘There are instances when the driver loses concentration while listening to other people in the vehicle,” DIG Senaratne said.

Pedestrians too were responsible for some accidents, either through rushing across even after the lights had turned green for motorists or while being absorbed in mobile phone conversations while making the crossing and losing focus on the traffic.

DIG Senaratne said poor lighting and ill-defined crossing markings also led to accidents

By Damith Wikremasekara

Charges filed against mother and son“My mother and sister were bringing dinner when they were knocked down by the car,” 20-year-old Gayani Sandayani Weerasinghe told the coronor’s inquiry into the Dematagoda accident.Gayani said her mother, Anula Weerasinghe and younger sister Rashmika had gone to her aunt’s house to bring dinner.

When she heard they had been hit in an accident while returning to their house on Keleniwelli Railway road she had rushed to the site and found her mother lying on the road and her sister thrown some distance away.

Inspector Anuradha Mahindasiri, Officer-in-Charge of the Dematagoda Police Station, told Colombo City Coroner Ashroff Rumi the suspect in the accident was a 15-year-old schoolboy who had been driving a car towards the Dematagoda supermarket.

“One of the boy’s relatives had claimed to have been driving the car but the people of the area shouted that the real driver had escaped, so the police were able to arrest the 15- year-old after he had escaped in another car,” Inspector Mahindasiri said.

He said the boy and his mother had been arrested and charged with engaging in dangerous driving and causing a fatal accident, and the mother faced the additional charge of approving the driving of the car illegally.

Doctors who carried out the postmortem said the little girl had died due to excessive bleeding from serious injuries to her neck while the mother had died from head injuries.

The coroner ordered police to investigate and reinforce the evidence against the mother and son who are implicated in the accident. The pair have been remanded until January 25 and January 29 respectively. (C.S.)

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