Hyderabad: Would Nandamuri Harikrishna have survived the high speed crash had he been wearing a seat belt? And what could have been the reasons for the frontal airbags not being deployed when the Toyota Fortuner crashed into a road divider, flew into the air and flipped over a couple of times before coming to a rest about 20 metres from where it first hit the divider?
Incidentally, Harikrishna’s companions – Arikepudi Shivaji and Raavi Venkat Rao – in the car, one in the passenger seat and the other in the back seat, were also not wearing their seat belts but somehow miraculously escaped. While Shivaji suffered from a fracture in his left leg, Venkat Rao practically walked away with no injuries.
According to Nalgonda district Superintendent of Police A V Ranganath, while none of the occupants were wearing seat belts, the non-deployment of air bags could be a result of the sensors not registering the required rate of sudden deceleration of the vehicle that would deploy the air bags. It could also be a result of the impact sensors not getting activated because of the angle of initial collision and the subsequent spiralling out of control of the vehicle did not activate the sensors, he said.
“We could not find any evidence of sudden braking. We are also surprised at the nature of injuries sustained by Harikrishna. Usually in such accidents we see compression injuries but not to the head as was the case,” he said.
While the practically walking away from the deadly crash by two other occupants of the car has left the police scratching their heads in wonder, Harikrishna too may have survived the crash, may be with some injuries, had he been wearing his seat belt as he would have been restrained in his seat despite the high speed crash.
While the full reconstruction of the accident was yet to be completed, initial appraisal of the possible sequence of events points to Harikrishna being flung out of the car through the windshield and the car, still moving a very high speed flinging him off the bonnet as it came to a rest about 20 metres away from the initial impact site. “Harikrishna was found about 50 feet away from where the car stopped and it was possibly the momentum of the vehicle that resulted in him falling so far away,” the police official said.
Meanwhile, police officials said Harikrishna was driving reportedly at around 160 kmph, and had tried to reach for a water bottle from the rear seat, in the process failing to see a curve on the road ahead. He, along with two friends who had left his residence in Mehdipatnam around 4.30 am were headed to Kavali in Nellore district to attend a wedding.
They had to cross Narketpally in Nalgonda and from there take a diversion on to the State highway towards Miryalaguda before proceeding to Nellore. The mishap occurred at around 6.30 am, after the car had travelled for about 10 kilometres on the highway.
“According to his friends, Harikrishna wanted to have some water and tried to reach for a water bottle from the rear seat while balancing the steering wheel with one hand. He failed to notice the slight curve ahead. When it appeared suddenly, he cut the steering towards the right, and lost control of the vehicle before ramming the road median,” said a police official.
He was shifted to Kamineni Hospital in Narketpally within 10 minutes, where the doctors tried to revive him but in vain.
What the WHO says about seat belts
According to the World Health Organisation, failure to use seat belts is a major contributing factor to road fatalities. The effectiveness of seat belts depends upon the type and severity of the crash and the seating position of the passenger. Correctly used seat belts reduce the risk of death in a crash by approximately 61%. The WHO also says that seat belts are most effective in roll-over crashes and frontal collisions, and in lower speed crashes.
-Balu Pulipaka & C Romeo