NOIDA: This was not the first time she had travelled on the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway, but it turned out to be her last journey down the 23-km high-speed e-way.
Ruma Chatopadhyay (50) India’s junior national team coach with the Cycling Federation of India (CFI), died in an accident on the expressway on Tuesday morning when she was out on a training session with a group of cyclists.
She was on a motorcycle when she was mowed down by a private taxi driver – he had allegedly fallen asleep on the wheel – who fled the scene after crashing into her. Noida Police have registered a case of rash and negligent driving against the driver and have launched a manhunt for him.
Ruma represented India thrice in international competitions and served as coach seven times, including Asian Games and Asian championship.
She was part of the cycling squad as coach, which participated in the Road Race event in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games held on the Expressway.
“Ruma’s death is a great loss not only for the cycling fraternity but the entire sports community,” Kapil Kaul, in charge of SAI administration, said.
The accident occurred at 6.20 am near sector 137 on the Greater Noida-Noida stretch of the expressway, when a speeding Swift car ran her over.
On a motorcycle, Ruma was escorting 25 boys and girls on a practice road race, which was a part of a cycling training camp being held in Delhi for a junior group of cyclists.
She was accompanied by two other coaches on motorcycles – one at the front, who was leading the group and another by her right side.
“The cyclists were in the centre and we were on our way back to the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi, where the camp is being held,” said coach Bhim Singh Dahiya, who was leading the pack when the accident happened.
Having been on the e-way scores of times, this was Ruma’s first trip this week, her group members said. “We used to ride down the expressway for practice sessions nearly three or four times every week,” said Dahiya.
“These practice sessions are necessary for cyclists undertaking long endurance races to build up stamina,” he added. “Every day we take a different route, and on Tuesday, we chose the expressway,” Dahiya said.
Ruma was riding on the extreme left of the highway, when the Swift car suddenly rammed into her bike. She was flung to a distance.
Coaches travelling with her were unable to fathom how the rogue driver of the car hit her and managed to miss the coach and the cyclists riding on her right. Grievously injured, she was rushed to Kailash Hospital in Noida, but doctors there declared her dead.
Hailing from Kolkata, Ruma had been coaching cycling enthusiasts for the last 20 years. She is survived by her mother and sisters. “We have informed the family and Ruma’s body will be escorted by senior officials of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) after the police conduct an autopsy,” said SAI’s Kaul.