As per a press release from The Royal Melbourne Hospital on behalf of the Panicker family, George sustained minor injury and his wife Manju is recovering in intensive care unit.
Friends and loved ones have come together to create a fundraiser for George’s family. Those who’re interested in contributing and helping the family move forward through these tough times are welcome to pitch in.
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Indian Link also spoke to Anooj Kolavattath who lives in the same estate as the Panicker family. The members have a Facebook group and started the fundraiser after the unfortunate incident. Anooj, who moved to Australia in 2008, two years before the Panickers, is close friends with the family and also told us that on Monday, the group members arranged a memorial in a nearby park for the children, Immanuel and Ruana.
On Sunday, George’s brother and sister-in-law also flew in from India to be with him.
In what has turned out to be one of the worst tragedies to have hit the Indian community in Melbourne, a 4-year-old boy, Immanuel George and his sister, 10-year-old Ruana passed away in a car crash in Truganina last Sunday.
Although Ruana died on the spot, Immanuel and Manju were rushed to the hospital while George was discharged recently. The boy died shortly thereafter.
The Royal Melbourne Hospital told Indian Link that Manju, who was in a critical condition so far, is now “serious”, a minor but significant improvement on her earlier ‘critical’ condition.
The two kids were travelling in a Ford Focus with their mother, Manju and father George Panicker, on their way back from a birthday party in the early hours of Sunday. The accident occurred when a Ford Territory driving on Hopkins Road tried to overtake a Honda SUV, and crashed head-on with the family’s car.
The driver of the Ford Territory, a 41-year-old man from Rockbank is still in hospital and has been charged with negligence causing serious injury and two counts of culpable driving.
According to the Transport Accident Commission, the incident brings the toll to 106. At this time in 2017, the number of deaths due to road crashes had been recorded as 128.
In the last year, there have been 112 fatalities from road crashes in driver-related deaths, accounting for a whopping 25.9% of total fatalities (including running off a straight road, 31.3%; adjacent direction, 18.8% and overtaking, 3.6% among others). The Panicker family, which hails from Kollam, Kerala, were known to be quiet, devout and loving. Reverend Father Pradeep Ponnachan, the vicar of St Mary’s Indian Orthodox Cathedral in Melbourne, organised a prayer meeting no Tuesday at the Cathedral to commemorate the lives of Immanuel and Ruana.
Reverend Father Saju Unnoonni told Indian Link that at present, the family is still grieving but their organisation would be happy to organise a fundraiser or any other kind of support when the family members are ready.
The tragedy has been extensively reported by media organisations in India as well as Australia. “So heart breaking to lose your loved ones only coz of wreckless & stupid drivers… They shouldn’t be allowed on the roads ever,” Indian Link reader Loreen Lal stated on the paper’s social media account.
Meanwhile, well-wishers have expressed their condolences, some enquiring the ways in which they might be able to help. “Please let us know if we can be of any help. My heart goes out to the family and the community,” wrote one member Kalapi Trivedi.
“Please start a donation page…or does anyone know if there’s one already ?” wrote another user Ginz Sidhu.
Watch this space for more updates as we receive them.
*All images were taken down to respect the family’s privacy.