CHENNAI: “The moment I fell off and realised that a huge iron rod was over me, my first thought was to thank god that my younger brother, who also works with me, was not on the ride,” says Dheenadayalan (23), sitting in the hospital bed. He was one of 21 staff of Kishkinta theme park, forced to take the trial run of the ill-fated joy ride christened Disco Dancer on Wednesday.
Most victims, who hail from the nearby villages work for a monthly salary of around Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 have similar tales. On Wednesday evening after the park was closed to the public, the staff packed their bags and were headed for their homes when they were stopped by the security guard at the gate who asked them to stay back a little longer. The reason: the trial run of Disco Dancer.
“We were told the equipment was to be transported to Kerala, hence they wanted to test run it,” said Dheenadayalan. He recounts that a few members of the staff refused to sit for the trial run fearing for their safety but were compelled to do so by their superiors.
“Around 25 of us sat and for the first two minutes everything seemed fine. After a while, I felt a jerk. I got a little scared and the person sitting next to me held my hand tight. He said nothing will happen and not to worry. In a few minutes, I realised that a huge iron rod was on me and the person who held my hand was missing. Everything went blank. I do not know how I reached the hospital, but my arm is still hurting,” says Dheenadayalan, who gets paid a monthly salary of Rs 5,800 for the job of mixing chlorine in the swimming pool. He was glad that his younger brother, who also works with him in the swimming pool division, left home early.
The body of S Manikandan, a 19-year-old worker who was killed, was handed over to the relatives after autopsy. The condition of another staff, who was said to be critical yesterday has improved, according to sources.
The ride, which is a merry-go-around, was at a height of 15 feet when it came crashing down.
R Soundari, a house-keeping staff and mother of 15-year-old R Gunasekaran, one of the injured, said, “He was alone at home for the vacation, so I requested my seniors to give him work. Now I realise it was a big mistake.”
Two theme park officials arrested
A day after the accident, the Kancheepuram police registered a case of culpable homicide and arrested Jose Punnoose (58), joint managing director of the theme park, and D Shakthi Velan (43), who is the HR manager. “We have formed a separate committee to investigate the case, after which the report will be submitted,” said Sriperumbudur Tahsildar K Damodaran, who visited the theme park on Thursday afternoon and inspected the accident spot.