Death race on Dhaka streets | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 30, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:45 AM, November 30, 2016

Death race on Dhaka streets

It was around 1:30am Friday. Bachelor businessman Ashraf (not his real name) was returning home from a friend's place in Uttara to Dhanmondi. As the Mymensingh road was free, thirty-something Ashraf could not help himself cheerfully driving his white Toyota at a high speed.

Ashraf was crossing the Radisson hotel when a black Mazda with two young men zoomed past him.

Suddenly Ashraf felt a rush of blood in his head. His right foot instantly pressed the accelerator harder and his Toyota growled with greater speed. In seconds, the speedometer hit 120km as he was quickly catching up with that black Mazda Atenza as they approached the Banani flyover.

It all happened in seconds. Neither the driver of the Mazda, nor Ashraf saw a truck plying the road at regular speed. Without slowing down, the Mazda car moved to the side lane from the central lane in order to overtake the truck. It lost control and hit the adjacent footpath -- smashed a few things and turned turtle while retaining the speed.

Ashraf saw it, but he was also not in control. His car went further ahead taking the road below the flyover and hit something with full force. The front of his car was instantly smashed as it turned turtle too.

Ashraf was not wearing any belt -- and his body absorbed the impact of the accident. He could move his hands -- but his legs felt numb. He was trying to come out of the car -- but did not have the strength to do so.

As luck would have it, another car was passing by. A gentleman and his driver were returning home from a long drive from Netrakona at that time. This gentleman saw the smashed car and noticed Ashraf trying to come out. He came to Ashraf's rescue.

 As he approached his window, Ashraf mumbled, “Please help me come out of the car …”

The man and his driver pulled him out of the car. He looked unharmed, but he could not move his legs. Ashraf asked them, “Would you kindly drop me at a nearby hospital?”

They took him to the United Hospital. The gentleman then took his mobile phone, checked his call list and called the last person Ashraf had conversation with. It was one of his friends. He then broke the news to his friend that he had an accident.

By morning, some of Ashraf's relatives and friends had gathered at the hospital. The doctors there were looking for a guardian for a decision based on X-rays and other checkups.

Ashraf's friend tells me quoting the doctor, “His condition is quite serious. His backbone is broken. One of his critical veins in the backbone is in dangerous situation -- that's why blood flow to his lower part of body is almost shut. He needs an operation urgently. Otherwise he will forever be paralysed.

“And even if an operation on him is successful, it will take many months for him to recover,” the doctor pointed out.

Ashraf was then transferred to Trauma Centre, which is specialised in handling such cases. The doctors operated on him and fixed his backbone with a steel plate with eight screws.

Ashraf can now talk, share his trauma with his friends. But unfortunately he still cannot move his legs. The doctors however assured him that if he regularly takes therapy after initial recovery -- he may be able to walk within a year. But it's unlikely that he would ever be normal again.

Ashraf's friends later checked out the condition of his car and the other victim. They learnt from the police that the young driver and his friend in the Mazda had almost no injuries -- although their car was badly damaged. Both cars are now in police custody in two separate police stations.

According to a report filed on November 25, the two riders of the Mazda car were taken to Apollo Hospital soon after the accident. The accident was noticed by city corporation workers who were there on city beautification jobs. The two persons were Nakib and Amir and they are both in their twenties.

Ashraf's tale is not quite isolated. Every once in a while, mindless midnight races like these take place in the city roads. There is an “underground” racing community who love modifying cars for racing. They are driven by adrenaline rush. Sometimes nothing happens when they race. Sometimes the drivers get seriously injured or even die. But by morning, to the busy city dwellers -- the streets look the same and everyone forgets what stupid things might have hurt someone last night.

(The name of the victim was withheld on request)

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