Recklessly driven backup jeep sans VIP kills motorcyclist

Hit-and-run police driver ignores seriously injured pillion rider but is out on bail
By Damith Wickremasekara and Manopriya Gunasekara

A retired Engineer of the National Water Supply & Drainage Board, riding his motor cycle with his wife on the pillion were knocked down by a speeding backup vehicle of S.B. Dissanayake, in the Borella area this week, killing the husband instantly.

The wife remains warded at the Colombo National Hospital with multiple fractures and may take a few months to recover from the injuries. Retired Engineer Sunil Upali, 61, and his wife Manjula Kulasinha, 57, were on their way, for the wife to be dropped near the Lady Ridgeway Hospital, from where she boards a staff van, as she had been doing the past 16 years.

The junction where the accident occurred. Pic by Athula Devapriya

According to eyewitnesses, as Mr. Upali approached Kuruppu Road – Rodney Street junction - off Dr. N.M. Perera Mawatha, a jeep traveling at high speed had hit the motorcycle. Mr. Upali had been thrown some 20 feet, hit a parapet wall and fallen into a drain, while his wife had sustained serious injuries.

The vehicle driven by Ministerial Security Division driver Hennayaka Mudiyanselage Jayatillaka had proceeded without either taking the injured to hospital or immediately reporting the matter to the nearest police. Two police constables in the jeep had accompanied the injured to hospital.

The driver was produced before a Magistrate only on the following day and remanded for a day.
On the following day, the driver was released on Rs. 100,000 surety bail by Colombo Additional Magistrate (Traffic) J. Trotsky.

Police filing a report on the incident to courts, stated that the driver had informed he was willing to pay a compensation of Rs 40,000 to the family. Borella Police Chief Inspector (CI) Deeptha Wijewickrema in his report to Courts said that the non -action of the Police driver in failing to take the injured to hospital had come under criticism from family members of the victims.

The case is due to be taken up on September 8. Borella Police Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Chief Inspector Anuruddha Bandara told the Sunday Times that the Police will be filing charges against the police driver involved in the accident.

The victim

Meanwhile, Mr. Upali’s family members were mourning his death. A relative of Mr. Upali told the Sunday Times that according to eyewitnesses the jeep had been traveling at high speed despite presence of humps on that road.

“They were not only responsible for the accident, but had also escaped without trying to help the injured to the hospital”, he said. Residents speaking to the Sunday Times queried as to why in this particular instance, despite the Minister’s absence, the vehicle travelled at high speed.

“The brake marks of the jeep visible for several feet, were indicative of the very high speed the jeep had been traveling at”, another resident said. Residents said that several VIP vehicles take this particular route as it links Baseline Road to Cotta Road.

Navy driver arrested for fatal accident

A motorcyclist was killed in a collision with a Navy cab at Kottukacheya in Puttalam yesterday evening.
Police arrested the Navy driver and identified the victim as Lal Rodrego, a 48-year-old farmer.

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