Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

Dubai bus crash: families say punishing the driver will not lessen their pain

Relatives spoke out after the driver was charged with wrongful death

Darpan and Sapna Moolchandani look at a photograph of their sister Roshni who died in a bus crash in Dubai on Thursday. Ruel Pableo for The National 
Darpan and Sapna Moolchandani look at a photograph of their sister Roshni who died in a bus crash in Dubai on Thursday. Ruel Pableo for The National 

Relatives of the 17 people killed in a bus accident in Dubai have said punishing the driver of the vehicle would not lessen their grief.

Speaking out after prosecutors charged the Omani man with wrongful death, families of the dead said their lives had been “shattered” forever.

Authorities revealed on Wednesday that the bus was travelling at more than twice the speed limit when it struck an overhead road barrier that warned motorists of a vehicle height restriction.

More than half of the bus passengers were killed. Many had been returning to the UAE after a short break in Oman for the Eid Al Fitr holiday.

“It was the driver’s mistake but punishing him will not lessen our grief,” said Sapna Moolchandani, 28, the older sister of aspiring model Roshni, 22, who died in the crash.

“Yes, some punishment must be given so going forward other drivers do not take the lives of their passengers lightly.”

Ms Moolchandani spoke to The National from Bangalore, where she has spent recent weeks comforting her parents and brother in their home in Ajmer.

She only returned to work for the first time, since the June 6 crash, after scattering her sister’s ashes over the Beas River in northern India.

The family of Roshni Moolchandani have paid tribute to the budding model after her life was cruelly cut short in a bus crash in Dubai. Courtesy Five Palm Jumeirah
Roshni Moolchandani was an aspiring model with thousands of followers on Instagram. Courtesy Five Palm Jumeirah

“It is the duty of the government to take action so other drivers are more cautious and a similar accident does not happen,” she said.

“But there can be no justice for us, everything is destroyed. There is nothing that can heal us. It is a lifelong loss for my family.”

Roshni had lived in Dubai for the last two years and worked at the Five Palm Jumeirah hotel.

She and her siblings had celebrated her birthday in Bangkok, Thailand, in January, and they had planned a trip to Vietnam in October for Sapna, the oldest sister’s birthday. Roshni had her heart set on a career in the modelling industry.

“She was heading back to Dubai for more beauty pageants and collaborations with designers and photographers,” said her sister.

“We had so many plans together. We spoke before she returned about the Vietnam plans and she wanted to do all the bookings.

“My parents are shattered and broken from the inside because she was our support.

“Life will never be the same for my family. We feel like we have lost a part of ourselves.”

Police have revealed that the Mwasalat tourist bus, which operates twice daily between Muscat and Dubai, had been travelling at 94 kilometres per hour — more than double the 40kph speed limit.

The driver, 53, had also failed to notice clearly marked traffic signs indicating he was in a lane with vehicle height restrictions.

As a result, the bus crashed into the overhead barrier at significant speed. The force of the collision was so strong that it ripped a hole right down the left hand side of the bus at head height, from the driver’s windscreen through to the tail of the vehicle. If convicted, the driver could now face up to seven years in jail as well as a steep fine, including Dh3.4 million in blood money to the victims' families.

Deepa Kumar, an accountant, was among 17 passengers who died in a bus accident last month in Dubai. He is pictured with his wife Athira and their daughter Amulya, who each survived the crash but are now traumatised. Courtesy Kumar famliy
Deepa Kumar with his daughter Amulya, and wife Athira during a visit to Kerala last year. Courtesy family

Deepa Kumar, an accountant, was taking the bus home on June 6 with his family after they had been on holiday in Muscat.

He died as he sat next to his wife Athira, and four-year-old daughter, Amulya, who has been left traumatised by the accident

A cousin of the family, Amal Dev, said the family remains in shock. He said Kumar was cremated in India following the tragedy.

“The child is still very frightened because of the shock of what she saw,” said Mr Dev.

“She is scared of going outdoors. Even if others are with her, she does not like to go out near the road because of the sound of the vehicles.”

Mr Dev said it was difficult to understand why the driver had been speeding on such a familiar route.

“This was not a new driver,” he said. “He was familiar with the route so why should he have been driving at the speed of 94kph?

“We cannot change what happened. But it’s so sad and disappointing to hear it was because of speeding because that could have been avoided.

“If he had abided by the rules my cousin would not have lost his life and 17 people would be alive.”

Updated: June 27, 2019 01:07 PM

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