- He had been driving since 1997 without accidents
- His son lost leg at the hands of able-bodied driver
The Cinnamon Gardens Police nabbed an amputee driving a school van with one hand yesterday morning.
Sixty two –year-old Bernard Wijesiri was produced before the Hulftsdorp Magistrate’s Court and enlarged on bail. His licence was retained by the police.
The amputee was transporting children to three leading girls’ schools in Colombo from the Kotugoda, Yagodamulla area in Ja-Ela at the time of the detection, the police said.
The driver told police that he had obtained his driving license before his right hand was amputated following an accident. The van used for transporting children belonged to him and when he had to change gears he had used the stump of his right arm to control the vehicle.
Police released the vehicle and ordered an able-bodied driver be employed.
Bernard told The Island that he had been driving vehicles since 1997 in that condition and he had not met with any accidents.
“When I was nabbed by the police, they took me to the police station like a pick pocket. I lost all hope and felt forlorn, but the judge thanked me for the services rendered in transporting children to school safely even without a hand, said Bernard.
Speaking from his humble home, he said with yesterday’s detection he lost his sole livelihood and he was not in a position to employ a driver and even if he did it would be a loss.
Bernard had worked in Saudi Arabia prior to 1997 and lost his arm in an industrial accident there . He said “with the money I received as compensation I bought a Hi-Ace van and started a school service after returning home”.
“I have been transporting 17 school children at a time for so many years and never met with an accident. The parents of those children have complete trust in me and I can drive better than those who have both hands, Bernard said.
Said Bernard “I have even driven people to far away places such as Nuwara Eliya and Kataragama in my vehicle. Never has there been a single complaint”.
“I have been very helpful to the people of my village and whenever someone falls sick needing hospitalization it is I who take them to the hospital. They always come seeking my services,” a distraught Bernard said.
Disaster struck this Samaritan again recently when his son was knocked down by a lorry transporting cement and one of his legs had to be amputated .
“Fortunately he has since found employment in an establishment in Katuinayake and we are thankful to those who employs him”, he said.
Bernard’s wife Mihirimali said that her husband was a very disciplined driver and never consumed alcohol and was a very religious man.
She was sad that some villagers after hearing unsubstantiated news broadcasts on FM stations on what happened to her husband started spreading rumours as if he had committed a grave crime, she said.
Courtesy: The Island