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 the police.
When the accident occurred at around 2:30pm, Gilani and five other girls, all friends and students at CIIT’s undergraduate Architecture programme, 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.
The 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 somersaulted over the divider to the opposite lane where it collided sideways with an oncoming car.
In the collision, both cars were battered on the driver’s side. Gilani, who was in the passenger seat, was not wearing her seat belt, according to the police, and suffered a head injury as the car’s windscreen broke. The 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 was being driven by a woman, according to her brother who requested anonymity but said Shaheen was driving her two children from a private school to their residence in Sector 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 officials and onlookers. The police identified the injured as Anam Shakeel, Isbah Javed, Zainab, Maryam 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 the 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.
The 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 jaywalkers are a constant risk for road safety, not just on 7th Avenue but also on the Islamabad Highway where pedestrians have caused at least two accidents in the past two months.
A traffic police official who reached the scene of the accident said Islamabad Traffic Police is constantly trying to educate pedestrians to use footbridges and drivers not to exceed speed limits.
The official 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 through them to make way.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2013.