University student killed in car accident on 7th Ave

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Oct 25, 2013.

Islamabad – An undergraduate student was killed in a car accident, in which at least eight other people were also injured, on 7th Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

Hajra Gilani, a second-semester student of Architecture at the Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), received a head injury that proved to be fatal. She died at the Polyclinic Hospital, according to police.

When the accident happened around 2:30pm, Gilani and five other girls — they were all students at CIIT’s Architecture undergrad programme and friends — were driving to the Pakistan National Council of the Arts from their university campus in Chak Shahzad, according to Arshad Mehmood, the father of Mehreen Arshad who was also in the car.

Police could not confirm which of the six students was driving the car. But based on accounts from police officers, eyewitnesses and relatives of the injured, the accident occurred when the car’s driver tried to save a pedestrian who ran in front of the car.

The car, a Toyota Vitz, swerved, hit a lamp post on the median near the avenue’s Saddar Road underpass which is located between G-6 and G-7, and jumped the divider to the opposite lane where it collided sideways with an incoming car, another Toyota Vitz.

In the collision, both cars were brutally battered on the driver’s side. Gilani, who was in the passenger seat was not wearing her seat belt, according to police, and suffered a head injury as the car’s windscreen broke.

Police said one other girl was in critical condition but did not reveal her identity or if she was driving the car.

The other car belonged to Mrs Shaheen, according to her brother who requested anonymity but said Shaheen was driving her two children from a private school to their residence in I-8/4. He said his sister and her children were shifted to Al-Shifa Hospital where they were being treated for minor wounds.

The injured from the students’ car were shifted to the Polyclinic Hospital by Rescue 1122 and privately. Police identified the injured as Anam Shakeel, Isbah Javed, Zainab (no last name provided), Maryam (no last name provided) and Mehreen Arshad.

Distraught classmates and family members of the injured students quickly gathered at the hospital, trying to find out more about their loved ones from police and doctors.

Javed Abbasi, the father of Isbah, said his daughter was too shocked to give him any details about the incident. Abbasi said Isbah had hurt her arm in the accident and had to get an X-Ray. Some of the other girls who were also injured mostly received minor injuries and cuts and bruises, Mehmood said.

Police did not confirm if the pedestrian who might have caused the accident was also injured.

There are several overhead footbridges on the 7th Avenue — an overhead bridge is also located near the place where the accident occurred. But jaywalking pedestrians are a constant risk for road safety, not just on 7th Avenue but also on Islamabad Highway where pedestrians have caused at least two accidents in the past two months.

A traffic police officer who reached the scene of the accident said Islamabad Traffic Police is constantly trying to educate pedestrians to use footbridges and drivers not to speed up inside the city limits.

The officer, however, said a metal fence on the sides of the 7th Avenue might not be effective.

“Just look at the metal dividers installed on the Murree Road in Rawalpindi and on the Islamabad Highway,” the officer said. “People and motorcyclists simply break them to make way.”

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