(Trinidad Guardian) Two non-functioning traffic lights at the intersection of the Bypass Connector Road and St Helena Bypass Road are being blamed for the death of two pilots in a car accident yesterday afternoon.
According to police reports, around 1.30 pm the driver of a red Toyota Tercel, Vishnu Dipchand Shukla, 56, of Crescent Court, Tacarigua, and passenger Farouk Khan, 62, were heading west along the Connector Road when they collided with a dump truck heading south along the St Helena Bypass Road.
The two Briko Air Services pilots were about to turn north onto the St Helena Road when the accident occurred.
Speaking with the media at the scene, Briko Air Services managing director Harry Ragoonanan said both men were stellar employees who were on their way home when the accident took place. Ragoonanan said Khan had been with the company for the past 30 years while Shukla was employed with them for half that time.
“They were two of my best employees, never had a complaint about them. Farouk (Khan) used to live in Arima Old Road and Shukla, he lived in San Juan. They were preparing for re-certification because ever so often we re-certify our pilots,” Ragoonanan said.
A relative of Shukla, who did not want to be identified, said he last spoke with him on Saturday and they teased each other as they were accustomed doing. The relative added that Shukla was a family man who would do anything for anyone who asked him. He said the hardest thing was seeing the mangled car and having to deal with Shukla’s sudden death given the circumstances.
“For us to lose him in this manner, in such a negligent manner, it is very, very hurtful,” the relative said.
The unidentified truck driver said he was on his way to take a load to Oropune Gardens when the accident occurred, admitting the traffic lights were not working. Police said from preliminary reports it looked as though both drivers did not slow down on nearing the intersection.
In an unrelated incident, three people were injured when a tree branch broke off and landed on the Toyota Hilux they were travelling in. According to police reports, the accident took place along the Uriah Butler Highway turnoff onto the Churchill Roosevelt Highway near Nestle. Police said just after noon, Marcelle O’Brien was driving along the highway access road when he lost control of the vehicle after the branch hit it, damaging the front grill.
Also in the vehicle were O’Brien’s relatives Karen O’Brien and Leslie Cipriani. Police said their injuries were not life threatening but they were “a bit traumatised”.