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04/15/2013

After crash killed woman and baby on Indian highway, no one stopped

The family of four were darting along the Indian highway, all sitting astride on a single motorcycle, when tragedy struck.

They were travelling through a tunnel near the city of Jaipur in western India when a collision with a speeding truck shattered the family, highlighting both the dangers of India’s roads and the callousness of some commuters.

After colliding with the truck, the motorcyclist's wife and their six-month-old baby were critically injured--the baby died immediately, according to media reports, and her mother later succombed to her injuries. The woman's husband and young son were left sitting on the side of the road.

For 20 minutes, cars and motorcycles dashed past the accident scene.

“Security camera footage showed the man clutching onto his son, pleading for assistance as traffic rolls by just a few feet from him," NDTV reported. “He then sits down on the road holding his head.”

No one stopped to help until a motorcyclist pulled over and agreed to take the father’s cellphone number to attendants working at a nearby toll booth.

The tragedy was captured by closed-circuit cameras and reported Monday by NDTV, an Indian television network.

India’s National Commission for Women charged the man’s wife could have been saved if people responsible for the cameras had acted sooner.

"People in the CCTV control room didn't inform the police... There was a delay of one and a half hours... If she had been given medical attention on time she would have been saved," Mamta Sharma, Chairperson, National Commission for Women, told NDTV.

While traffic deaths in many countries have levelled off or declined in recent years, accidents in India have surged. In 2006, India surpassed China to lead the world in road fatalities and two years later, there were more than 118,000 accident fatalities in India, up 40 per cent from 2004, according to a story published in 2010 by The New York Times.

Each year, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies, 1.3 million people die in car accidents, and India is responsible for 196,000, the highest overall number of road deaths, followed by China and the U.S.

Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at the Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead

Comments

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This is extremely upsetting to some readers especially those with families. Indians want to catch up to the developed world, but it can't just do that at economically. With a developing economy, India's citizens also need to develop morally. This sad tale of the human condition is reflects an absolute immorality that is extremely saddening. Any story of tragic, sudden loss is sad like the Boston explosions. However, the comfort in the Boston case is the help that was there and how people banded together.

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