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Speed kills in cut-loose hour
Managers in taxi die at risky crossing

The smashed taxi in which the Philips Healthcare executives were travelling and (right) the front wheels that came off the truck just before it crashed into the car at the seven-point Park Circus crossing. Pictures by Anindya Shankar Ray

A truck travelling so fast that its front wheels came off while braking crashed into a taxi at an unmanned Park Circus crossing early on Tuesday, killing two young medical equipment executives returning from an on-site assignment.

Philips Healthcare’s Bengal territory manager Jayanta Kumar Das and Mumbai-based performance manager Sharad Shirbade died in their seats, while colleague Prasanta Bose suffered multiple fractures and a chest injury.

Driver Devendra Prasad Sau, who had to be extricated from the car by using gas cutters, escaped with fewer injuries.

The two victims, both in their thirties, and their engineer colleague had been repairing a faulty CT-scan machine at Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals till well past midnight. They presumably hired the taxi between 2.10 and 2.20am for Shirbade to go to his hotel and the other two to their homes in Thakurpukur and Amherst Street.

The accident occurred around 2.30am in the heart of Syed Amir Ali Avenue, a traffic quagmire at the best of times and the epitome of the lawless jungle that all city roads become once the cops leave and the signals blink zombie-like through the night.

The mangled mass of metal that was once Sau’s taxi and the two front tyres that came off the pulses-laden truck spoke of the ferocity with which metal struck metal in the dead of night, claiming two lives and destroying their families.

“The truck was approaching the Park Circus seven-point crossing through Syed Amir Ali Avenue while the taxi was coming through Congress Exhibition Road. The crash occurred just when the taxi was taking a turn,” a police officer said.

The truck driver, who is absconding, slammed the brakes but such was the speed at which he was driving that the wheels came off the shaft.

Territory manager Jayanta, who would have celebrated his third wedding anniversary with wife Mou on July 1, had called home a couple of hours before the fatal accident to say he would be late, sister-in-law Pooja said.

The couple have a 16-month-old son Antares. Mother Lily Das, 60, shares the house at Thakurpukur’s Ho Chi Minh Sarani.

Sharad, a resident of Lokhandwala in Mumbai, had arrived on Monday especially for the Apollo assignment. “He directly went to the hospital from the airport. He was booked in a city hotel for the night,” said Shankha Chatterjee, the company’s regional manager for customer support.

Sharad’s relatives reached the city on the first available flight and took his body back to Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon after post-mortem.

Engineer Prasanta, who is in his 40s, apparently survived because he was seated behind the driver.

The truck rammed into the left side of the taxi, where the victims were seated.

Prasanta, a resident of Amherst Street, is in ICU at Medica hospital on the Bypass. “He has multiple fractures in his left leg and also a chest injury. He will undergo surgery on Wednesday,” said an official at the hospital.

An officer in the team from Beniapukur police station that had rushed to the accident site said driver Sau was the only one who “looked alive” at first glance. But pulling him out of the car proved more difficult than taking out Prasanta and moving him to a hospital.

“We were there by 2.35am. Residents of the neighbourhood helped us rescue the two survivors. The fire department and the disaster management group were also alerted,” the officer said.

Driver Sau was admitted to Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital.

Accidents are common between 11pm and 6am, when there is no traffic policing on city roads.

“During that period, the local police stations and their patrol teams are responsible for whatever happens on the roads,” said a senior traffic police officer.

Try convincing Jayanta and Sharad’s families that it is enough.

Is the Park Circus crossing the most dangerous Calcutta road after 11pm? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com