Family pardons the driver who killed 91-year-old man

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The family of a 91-year-old man who died after being hit by a bus near Shivaji Park on Tuesday morning has decided not to press charges on discovering the driver was not at fault and tried his best to rush the victim to a hospital.

Michale Swamy Chettiar, 91, was out on his morning stroll with his regular walking partner when he fell down while crossing the road near Shivaji Park. Eyewitnesses told the police that the driver of an oncoming tourist bus braked hard but could not avoid hitting Chettiar.

The driver Maheshwar Palkar rushed an unconscious Chettiar to a nearby private hospital, which refused to admit him as it was an accident case. Palkar then took Chettiar to KEM Hospital where he was declared dead.

When told that the driver was not at fault, Chettiar’s family decided not to press charges. But the police have filed a case of rash and negligent driving and detained Palkar.

“We have told the police not to press charges against Palkar as that is what my grandfather would have wanted,” said Sharin Chettiar, the victim’s 22-year-old granddaughter.

The family said Chettiar, the president of Matunga’s Catholic Devangar Sangam, lived with his son’s family near Citylight Cinema, Mahim. As his son and daughter-in-law were travelling, Chettiar’s daughter Greta, 45, came over to take care of him.

On Tuesday morning, Chettair who was being served only vegetarian food by Greta, said he wanted to eat chicken. Greta’s son Charles, 25, promised to buy him some chicken on his way back from work. But when Chettair left with his friend for his usual walk at 8 am, he decided to go to Prabhat Poultry near Shivaji Park and pick up some chicken.

“I crossed the road first,” said his walking partner, who did not want to be named. “Chettiar was behind me. After I crossed the road, I heard the sound of screeching brakes and when I turned I saw he was down.”

Eyewitnesses told the police later that Chettiar slipped and fell before the bus hit him. “Before Chettiar could get up, the bus belonging to Sai Care ran over him,” said Shivaji Park senior inspector Parshuram Kakkad. In his statement to the police, Palkar said he immediately rushed Chettair to a private hospital, where he was denied admission.

He then took Chettair to KEM where he was declared dead on admission. Police later said Chettair had died on the spot.

Chettair came to Mumbai in the 1930s as a kid and lived in Kurla. He later joined Kohinoor Mills, and has been living at his Mahim home for the last 75 years. “He was a very jovial man,” said S Irudayasamy, a member of the Catholic Devangar Sangham. “He always wanted to be independent and insisted on going for his walks.

He was very fond of children and was instrumental in instituting a fellowship for needy students. Several youngsters who benefitted from the fellowship often visited him to convey their gratitude.”(MM)

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