High speed; a heavy-load and a deadly accident!
Six young men set off for the Pannala races last Sunday. They were geared for a day of fun and excitement, but for five of them it was to be their last journey.A tragic accident on the way took the lives of these five talented 'live wires', leaving family members and friends in shock and despair.

Shezan Rali, 22, Shafraz Hathy, 22, Arafat Nizar, 33, Rahumath Mohamed, 22, and Arazan Rafi Ismail, 22, were killed when the car they were travelling in collided with an it oncoming vehicle close to the Hendigala Pirivena on the Pannala-Negombo Rd. Zaiqath Nizar, Arafat's younger brother survived the crash and is warded at the Apollo Hospital.

The most unfortunate Dr. Damayanthi Samarasinghe and Ranjith Hemantha Silva who were travelling in the other vehicle are also still in hospital having received seriouse injuries. Pannala Police Inspector Dayaratne describing the accident that occured on June 8, between 1.20 and 1.30 p.m said, the Peugeot in which the six youths were travelling, heading towards the Pannala races was in a head-on collision with a Nissan Sunny heading towards Colombo on a slope on the Pannala-Negombo Rd.
The OIC said the accident could have been caused by high speed and the heavy load in the car.

'The accident could have been avoided if they did not speed, this is a very common cause for accidents, the main reason for speeding is when the road is good little realising that such tragedies can take place" said the OIC.

Tragic accidents such as this are not a new phenomenon but they could be avoided if drivers can stick to road rules. All were rushed to the Sandalanka Hospital and subsequently transferred to the Ragama Teaching Hospital. Dr. Srilal Amarasuriya of the Sandalanka Hospital said two of the young men were dead on admission to hospital. " Another died while at the hospital and the rest were transferred to the Ragama Teaching Hospital for further treatment. One of them was in a critical condition," he said.

As news of the horrific crash reached Colombo, relatives and friends reacted with shock and disbelief. The young men had been close friends. Shezan, Shafraz, Arafat and Rahumath were old boys of Royal while Arazan was an old boy of Wycherley. They had all taken an active interest in their school's literary activities even after they had left school. As Royal College took part in the Shakespeare Drama Competition last week, sorrowing young actors went on stage wearing black armbands.

A relative of the Nizzar family said that Zaiqath's condition was stable though he was still in shock and trying to come to terms with the tragic loss of his closest friends.
Shezan Rali's family's staunch belief in Allah's will is the only comfort in their time of grief. 'Rali', as he was most commonly known was a bright and caring young man with very definite goals in life, which he had spelt out in a poem he had written on his 'Missions in life'.

His life revolved around his friends and his extra-curricular activities. His friends were his world, said his mother and quite ironically he left this world, with them. He once told me that we should display our love instead of keeping it under wraps. He insisted on hugging all of us every day and asked us to do the same, she said.

He was very sensitive, said Fashana Afaz, his sister. "He used to always confide in me if he ever had a problem and would also ask me how I was getting on and if I had any problems. I used to always advise him to concentrate more on his studies and reduce his extra curricular activities before it was too late.

He would reply 'Datha, (elder sister), 'I will do everything well and prove to you that I can do it.' He was always so full of ideas and creative thoughts," she said. "He was just too good to be true," said one of his close friends, Shereen. "He would go out of his way even to help a complete stranger." A real go-getter, 'Rali' was a born leader. Especially when it came to raising money or organizing projects.

"He never went with the flow, he created the flow," she said. Shezan was involved in spearheading many worthy projects both during his term as Interact President at Royal and at APIIT where he pursued his higher education. 'Hope Rocks', a concert in aid of the HOPE Cancer Hospital and money towards the flood victims, were just two of the many projects he helped make a reality.

Shafraz Hathy who was in Sri Lanka on vacation also died with his friends who meant the world to him. "Shafraz’s friends were his life," said one. He was studying in London for the final year of his degree having started his higher studies at APIIT.
A close friend of Arafat Nizar described him as a very warm and friendly person who was sincere in what he did. "He was the type of person who always had a kind word for everyone he met," the friend said.

Rahumath Mohamed was a creative young man, an excellent artist and actively involved in drama and Interact. He was a silent helper who was loved by all. "His ideas were out of this world," said one of his friends.

An all-rounder who had won several trophies in tennis and swimming and fared well in other sports as well, Arazan Ismail was doing his higher studies at ICBT. A kind and helpful young man, his friends said he was loved by everyone he interacted with.
Each of these youths was gifted and special in his own way. Unfortunately on that fateful Sunday, their time ran out and many people's worlds crashed around them at their loss.

Brutal tit for tat kills ex- education director
By Shelani Perera
A former Regional Education Director died in hospital after angry crowds brutally assaulted him when the vehicle he was driving ran over a female pedestrian, killing her on the spot, at the Dehiwela junction.

The ex-director D.S. Padmaperuma who had rented his van to a cab service and also drove the vehicle, was on his return trip after taking a couple to Kataragama, when he had allegedly run over a female on the pavement, last Saturday. According to eye witness accounts Mr. Padmaperuma had got off the vehicle and apologized, but onlookers had attacked him mercilessly. He was first taken to Kalubowila hospital with severe head injuries and later transferred to the ICU of the National Hospital where he died on Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Padmaperuma's tragic death has sent shock waves in the Education circles where he was recognised for the services rendered to the Education field. Meanwhile the grieving family said they were unaware of the events, as the couple who was with Mr. Padmaperuma had not contacted them. This, the family says added to the pain and shock.

According to Mr. Padmaperuma's wife Hemanthi, the trip to Kataragama had been arranged more than two weeks back, but the couple kept postponing it. As it was an on and off trip she had pleaded with her husband not to go on it.

"I was not at all happy about the trip. I kept thinking of the distance and something about it bothered me. I kept telling my husband not to go. But he just laughed off my fears. The couple initially planned to go on the trip on Friday. Then they called on Thursday and said they would go on Monday. Later they called and said they had changed their plans and would go on Friday and would call later to confirm the time. I had decided that I would tell them that my husband could not go on the trip, when they called to confirm the time," Mrs. Padmaperuma said.

"Unfortunately my son answered the phone when they called and he had said he would convey the message to my husband. They had said they would call him the next morning around 3.30 a.m. before they left. But even by 4.00 a.m. there was no call. Finally my husband woke me up and said he was leaving as they had called him," Mrs. Padmaperuma said.

She said that her husband had called home around 6.30 a.m. and said they were in Kalutara. He had kept the family informed till he reached Kataragama. However, although Mr. Padmaperuma had told his wife he would call her before they left Kataragama for Colombo the next day, Saturday, he had not done so.

"Around 2.00 p.m. I called the mobile phone of the couple. At about 7.00 p.m. I got a call from my husband to say they were in Galle. I realised they would reach Colombo around 11.00 pm. Since he had not come home by 11.30 p.m, I got worried and called on the mobile phone once again, but there was no answer.

"However around 12.30 a.m. I received a call from the cab service saying that my husband had come there since he had fallen sick. “The caller wanted our address to come and pick me up and my two sons. I was reluctant to give details and when I called back the cab service I was told that my husband was not there but there was a problem," Mrs. Padmaperuma said.

Mr. Padmaperuma's eldest son was taken to see his badly beaten up father at the ICU. Mrs. Padmaperuma was allowed to see her husband only on the following day.
"When I saw my husband, his face was badly bruised and swollen, but I was given the assurance that he would be okay once the swelling went down.But later everything changed," Mrs. Padmaperuma. said.

"We keep getting conflicting reports about the tragedy. Some say the onlookers had wanted to kill my husband right there, but the police had intervened and shot in the air. He did not run away from the scene. But instead he got off the vehicle and apologized.

“It is difficult to understand why the people behaved like this. My husband would never cause injury even to an animal. It would have been easier for us to accept his death if he had died in an accident. He may have been at fault. But there is a course of justice for that," a visibly shocked and grieving Mrs. Padmaperuma lamented.

Meanwhile Mt. Lavinia Police Inspector Jayasena said Mr. Padmaperuma's vehicle had gone off the road knocking down the woman who was sitting on the pavement. "It is possible that Mr. Padmaperuma may have fallen asleep, for the vehicle had gone off the road, coming to a halt only when it hit a wall. When the police arrived at the scene Mr. Padmaperuma had been beaten up and he was rushed to hospital," he said.

Odds and Ends
Pus gas
A private company that was seeking to import 400,000 filled gas cylinders to be sold in the local market had wanted their consignment released without payment of the value added tax.

The orders were sent to the Customs Department from the Inland Revenue Department, which was acting under the instructions of a Cabinet Minister. However, senior Customs officials protested and the company was forced to pay the duties initially for the first shipment of 4080 cylinders, which had already arrived. The rest of the cylinders are due to arrive shortly and had the tax exemption been granted the state would have lost around Rs 40 million.

Remember Rohana
At an Executive Council meeting of the Peoples Alliance held at President's House on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapakse chided the JVP saying they should take a leaf out of the book of their leader Rohana Wijeweera regarding the ethnic issue as the party had a better stand on this issue in the past.

The JVP will be able to set themselves right if they study the speeches of Rohana Wijeweera he said. The faces of the PA members were a treat to see when the MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena stated that more than 5 lakhs had participated at the recent demonstrations organized by the PA, while Dew Gunasekera and Raja Collure were seen exchanging glances.

It’s not a ghost but a Minister
The sight of Minister of Human Resource Development, Education and Cultural Affairs Karunasena Kodituwakku walking about close to the Kanatta roundabout minus his body guards one afternoon last week had quite a few passers by startled and amused.

As the Minister stood by the side of the road, probably waiting for his vehicle to pick him up, many of the motorists passing by were seen pointing to him and looking in bewilderment. Little wonder because let alone a Cabinet Minister, it's rarely that people get to see even a MP without several bodyguards surrounding them.

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