|The out-of-control truck stops after hitting a tollbooth
wall on Vidyasagar Setu on Thursday. (Gopal Senapati)
Four men were injured when a truck driver lost control of the Howrah-bound vehicle, switched lanes several times, hit a tree, jumped a median, knocked down a guard and rammed into the concrete wall of a tollbooth on Vidyasagar Setu on Thursday evening.
A taxi trailing the out-of-control truck slammed it twice from behind metres away from the tollbooths. The cabbie and two passengers were injured.
Mohamed Hussain, the guard on watch at the toll plaza, has been critically injured. He was taken to SSKM Hospital and then to Bangur Institute of Neurosciences, an officer said. He was later shifted to a private hospital in Howrah.
Lorry driver Mataju Yadav, 59, tried to flee after the accident but bystanders and toll plaza guards chased him down.
“We have arrested the driver. He has claimed that the brakes failed. We will check the truck to ascertain his statement,” said an officer of Hastings police station, in charge of policing on the Calcutta side of the bridge.
Bystanders said the truck, heading towards Kona Expressway around 5pm, suddenly started changing lanes while approaching the toll plaza. It sharply swerved towards the right and hit a neem tree, knocked off two guard rails and a vacant traffic stand before crossing over to the other flank of the road meant for Calcutta-bound traffic. The vehicle screeched to a halt after hitting the concrete wall of a tollbooth.
“The taxi hit the tail of the truck which was moving from one lane to the other at speed. The front bumper possibly got stuck with the truck and it dragged the taxi along. The taxi rammed into the truck for a second time after it hit the wall,” Durga Ghatak, a toll plaza guard said.
“Hussain saw the truck charging like a mad bull, twitching and turning from one lane to the other. He tried to stop it but soon realised he would be a direct hit if he failed to get off the way. He didn’t get enough time to react… the truck hit him and he flew headlong onto guard rails placed there. He fell on the concrete road divider,” said Arun Ghosh, the toll in-charge.
Vidyasagar Setu’s brush with killer trucks and trailers has gained notoriety over the past few years.
Earlier this month, 10 people were injured after a truck hit a car, crushed a taxi, knocked down two pedestrians and ploughed through parked motorcycles on Andul Road that connects Vidyasagar Setu with NH6. A mini-truck carrying 30 picnickers, mostly women and children, had overturned on the Setu in January.
In 2012, a college principal and her son had died when a lorry hit their motorbike from behind. Two years before that, at least eight persons were killed and 17 injured in three accidents involving trailers near the toll plaza.