Multiple teams of experts will study the car and the site of the crash that killed former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry and an acquaintance over the weekend, officials said on Monday, adding that several factors were under lens.
At present, the main questions revolve around whether the car was being driven at an unsafe speed and whether Mistry and Jehangir Pandole, who was on the rear seat with him, were strapped in by their seatbelts.
Two others, Anahita Pandole, who was behind the wheel, and her husband Darius Pandole, survived the accident that occurred when the Mercedes SUV slammed into a divider on a bridge.
“Our preliminary observation is that the accident was a result of ‘error of judgement’ on part of the driver, as the accident has taken place where the six-lane highway becomes four-lane, from where one has to take the bridge to move towards Mumbai,” said a police officer, who asked not to be named.
The officer said their preliminary assessment is also supported by eyewitness accounts. “The vehicle, it seems, was on the third lane and went to take the bridge and then crashed into its concrete barrier,” the officer added.
After deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis instructed the Director General of Police (DGP) to conduct a detailed probe in the incident, the investigation was entrusted to Palghar sub-divisional police officer Prashant Pardeshi.
“We have formed five teams which are checking all aspects related to the accident,” said Balasaheb Patil, superintendent of police, Palghar.
Another police official said an expert team from the Pune office of the Mercedes Benz was also reaching Palghar to inspect the car and help ascertain how the accident may have taken place.
The police said the team will also help them check the suspicion that the rear passengers were not wearing seat belts.
Other teams helping investigate the incident are groups from road safety advocacy group SaveLIFE Foundation, the Kalina forensic science laboratory and the Regional Transport Office. The three teams will submit their separate reports about the accident to the police. “We have asked them to recreate the accident scene on the basis of available technical data,” said a senior police officer, asking not to be named.
“Also, the statements of Dr Anahita Pandole who was driving the car and her husband Darius Pandole will clear the facts further. We have been unable to record their statements till now, as both are admitted in a hospital in Mumbai,” said the officer quoted in the first instance.
On Sunday afternoon Mistry and Jehangir Pandole, the brother of Darius, were killed while returning from the Parsi Pilgrim town of Udvada.
After the accident Anahita Pandole and her husband Darius were shifted to a private hospital in Vapi for treatment and have since been brought to Mumbai and admitted at the Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in South Mumbai.