x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fatal U-turn that sparked a grief-struck brother into action

Suraya Akhter, 22, was on her way to hand in her final assignment for university when a car speeding through a U-turn near the RAK Police Station swung in front of her.

Suraya Akhter was 22 when she died in a traffic accident.
Suraya Akhter was 22 when she died in a traffic accident.

ABU DHABI // Mohammed Shahnawaz still remembers clearly the day last March when his sister died. "Her accident happened two days after my birthday," Mr Shahnawaz said. "She took my car, took it to the car wash, she gave me a gift and that was it." Suraya Akhter, a 22-year-old aspiring fashion designer, was on her way to hand in her final assignment for university when a car speeding through a U-turn near the RAK Police Station swung in front of her.

Ms Akhter, who, Mr Shahnawaz, said, had right of way, swerved off the road, but lost control and struck a tree, throwing her from her car. She died four hours later at Saqr Hospital. In her memory, Mr Shahnawaz founded the Suraya Foundation to promote safe driving in the UAE. The other driver fled the scene. The insurance company ruled the death a suicide, but her family was not convinced, blaming the accident on poor road infrastructure, speeding and a culture of recklessness among motorists.

"If you go into that road, it's supposed to be a maximum 80kph on a simple two-lane road," Mr Shahnawaz said. "But the average speed must be above a hundred. People at times go 150, 200kph, and if you go on to do a U-turn, you don't know if there are cars coming so fast." Mr Shahnawaz petitioned to have the dangerous U-turn closed down, presenting more than 200 signatures to RAK Police, and the road has since been closed.

mkwong@thenational.ae