CHENNAI: A speeding car, after blowing a tyre, hit the sidewalk and flipped over landing on its roof very close to the railings, on the flyover in Chennai Airport at 10.15 AM on Sunday. Had it not been for the fact that it also collided with a lamp post on the elevated flyover it might well have plummeted to the ground level, some 50 feet below, where passengers are usually milling, waiting for taxis.
The driver of the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire (TN 09 B 8875) had dropped off a passenger at the domestic departure terminal and was speeding towards the exit ramp on the flyover, when the tyre burst.
“(The car) was between the international and domestic terminals when the tyre burst and the sound of car crashing was heard. When people came out to see, the car was almost against the railing and the driver was clambering out through the window,” said a source.
The sight of the overturned car positioned frighteningly close to the railing caused much alarm as passengers and staff hurried to the site of the accident. The terminal staff of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the policemen on duty immediately helped transport the driver, Venkat Verdhan (39), of Mambalam, to the medical centre in the airport.
“He had a few scratches on his back and was in a state of shock but is otherwise well. The car and the lamp post are rather badly damaged,” said an AAI official on duty. A damage assessment report is being drawn up with accounts from all parties involved, he added.
Airport Director, Deepak Shastri, said the lane where the accident occurred has been cordoned off and traffic has largely remained unaffected.
“It was a freak accident and not much damage has occurred. We have assessed what has happened and realize that it was the flat tyre and the fact that he hit some elevated obstruction that caused this incident,” Shastri explained. The damage will have to be offset by the maintenance providers or through penalty on the driver, he added.
The elevated driveway used by cars to drop off departing passengers is almost 600 metres long and has close to 6 large speed breakers on it to prevent drivers from speeding. Speeding was a concern as cars would hurry to exit the airport within the stipulated 5 minutes to avoid the Rs 130 rupee toll charge. With the time limit raised to 10 minutes last year.
“Speeding on that section, however is still a concern because incidents like this can happen. We have to set up some barricades on the driveway soon,” said a senior police official attached to the Airport S2 Police Station. The driver and his brother, who were at the scene, blamed an anomaly in the road for the incident. “It wasn’t just the flat tyre,” they insisted. The concrete road, however, is smooth and has many fissures and a large bump.