Mother saves lives after losing teen daughter in road crash

Mother saves lives after losing teen daughter in road crash

Victor Francis and his wife Dorris can’t forget the fateful morning of November 9 in 2009 when they were returning home in a three-wheeler with their sick 17-year-old daughter Nikki from a hospital. As they were taking a right turn from National Highway No-24 towards Khoda Colony in the outskirts of Delhi, a car hit them. Nikki received multiple injuries and died after a year-long suffering lying on the bed.

Nikki was their youngest daughter. “It was just like a scene of a movie happening right in front our eyes. As the car hit us, we all were thrown in three different directions. I was telling the three-wheeler driver to be cautious, but he sped without looking at all sides. The car driver was rushing to a funeral. Both were careless and speeding,” recalls Victor, who also drove three-wheeler for some years after leaving a job in a private hotel.

But what happened later is quite eye-opening. The couple decided to pardon the car driver since his fault was less. “In February 2010, Dorris spoke to me that she wants to volunteer as a ‘traffic cop’ at Aitabad Pushta Crossing where the fatal crash took place and snatched our daughter. I was pleasantly surprised,” Victor said.

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Dorris Francis managing traffic daily at a deadly crossing where she lost her daughter 

Fifty seven year old Dorris recalls how it was tough to even volunteer for the work, which the traffic police was supposed to do. She says there was no point sitting at home and hearing about more crashes and fatalities because people did not follow rules.

“It’s the poor people like us, who are the biggest victims of road crashes. Every crash destroys a family. I took up the challenge to stand at the crossing with a stick and a whistle to save lives and prevent crashes,” she says.

India's first ever sample study on the profile of road crash victims on Gurgaon-Jaipur stretch of National Highway No-8, which connects Delhi with Mumbai, shows how poor and the young in the age-group of 15 to 30 years are the worst impacted in road crashes. Nearly 75% of the crash victims on this stretch involved the poorest, according to this government-sponsored assessment.
Similarly, a survey conducted by the Korea Transport Institute (KOTI) in South Korea in 2013 shows the impact of road crashes on household income, unemployment, home ownership and divorce rate.

Dorris says it’s not just drivers who are in a hurry, even pedestrians and cyclists are in haste to cross roads without caring about the risk of meeting with a crash. She used to spend at least three hours during peak traffic hours at Aitabad Pushta Crossing “People don’t accompany children and older persons to cross the road safely. Everyone is in a hurry. I do whatever I can to prevent crashes,” she says.

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Dorris Francis managing traffic daily at a deadly crossing where she lost her daughter

For the first few days since she started standing at the crossing, commuters ridiculed her for the ‘madness’ and even local police were shocked. Initially, police personnel looked at her as the one spoiling their “extra income” from drivers, particularly from lorries and other heavy vehicles.

But the situation changed. Policemen found she was more successful than their own low rank personnel who were often beaten up by hooligans for stopping vehicles.

In 2013, finally the government of Uttar Pradesh recognized her contribution to make the road safe and she was made a “Special Police Officer”, an honorary post. Doris says, “It was the biggest recognition for me. I miss the joy of standing at the crossing every morning to make people follow traffic rules. I will go back soon,” she said.

Dorris has beaten cancer and recovering to resume her daily work for making roads safer.

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Dorris Francis - Special Police Officer

Dorris was detected of cancer in last October and was admitted to a hospital. Financial help poured in from all sections including from government. "It's because of people's good wish that I survived cancer. I won't stop from taking away keys of two-wheeler, if I find drivers not wearing helmet, which I used to do before," Doris says.

She is not just appreciated by people for her effort Dorris has also inspired one Kamal Joshi, who has been standing here to manage traffic since Dorris was hospitalized.

"She is an inspiration for everyone. I thought why can't I spend a couple of hours to make roads safer," Joshi says. He helps his wife in running a boutique.

Joshi (37) lost his father Kershav Dutton as he could not be provided timely medical treatment for a cardiac arrest because of traffic snarl on the same highway in April 2009.

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Kamal Joshi, a follower of Dorris, managing traffic when she is recovering from cancer.

He says making roads safe is a shared responsibility of all and everyone needs to contribute rather than just speaking about the daily massacre of innocents on Indian roads.