Police looking into involvement of third vehicle in accident that killed Sanath Nishantha and security officer
Police are investigating the presence of a third vehicle, which may be connected to Thursday’s accident that claimed the lives of state minister Sanath Nishantha and his personal security officer.
A senior police officer said that since the drivers of the two vehicles have claimed the presence of a third vehicle, the Highway Police has been told to investigate and report back.
According to police investigations and statements made by the drivers of the state minister’s vehicle and the container involved in the accident, a combination of factors, including high-speed driving, negligence, poor street lighting, and a failure by a third vehicle to give way, contributed to the accident.
The state minister’s busy schedule, where the driver was forced to spend long hours on the road about six hours driving continuously could also have contributed to the accident.
The minister had travelled to Kurunegala after attending parliamentary sessions, which ended around 6:30 PM on Wednesday, and taking part at the Australia Day reception.
From Kurunegala, he had travelled to Arachchikattuwa to attend a wedding reception before heading back to Colombo, where the accident occurred around 2:00 AM on Thursday (January 25).
The minister’s driver, Prabath Eranga 29, said in his statement to the police that they were heading to Colombo as the state minister was keen to reach home soon.
The jeep was travelling at a high speed 150 km per hour at the time of the accident and at times had gone above that speed too.
The driver of the container, who was released on bail, said he had observed that the jeep involved in the accident had been trying to overtake another car by flashing the vehicle lights. Realising that both vehicles were being driven dangerously, he had moved his vehicle to the left of the double-lane expressway.
However, while the other vehicle was passing his container, the jeep crashed into the rear of the container.
According to the police, Mr. Eranga had said that while he tried to overtake the other car from the left-hand side, he had seen the container ahead of him but could not get the vehicle back onto the right-hand side track, fearing it would collide with the other vehicle travelling parallel to him, and thereafter had rammed into the container. The jeep had spun and hit the left-side iron railing.
The minister and his bodyguard, PSO Anuradha Jayakody, were rushed to the Ragama hospital, where they were pronounced dead on admission. The driver was also admitted to the same hospital and has now been placed in remand custody while receiving treatment.
It was a police sergeant who was travelling from the airport along with his wife, a retired Air Force officer, who were the first to stop their vehicle on seeing the accident, while several other vehicles had passed by without stopping. The sergeant, who had dropped off his brother at the airport, was returning to police quarters in Maradana.
They had alerted the nearby police stations and ambulance services.
It had taken about more than an hour to extract Minister Nishantha and his bodyguard out of the wreck.
(Source: The Sunday Times – By Damith Wickremasekara and Yohan Basura)
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