Panic stricken. Zakia Jeelani’s two kids Rafa and Saad and her mother Razia Khan Image Credit: Abhishek Sengupta/XPRESS

DUBAI A Dubai mum is urging luxury car companies here to install extra features after her kids ages six and nine and her 65-year-old mother, were trapped in her SUV for over two hours.

The three were eventually rescued by teams of Dubai Civil Defence, Dubai Police and paramedics who had to cut the rear window open with a chainsaw. “They were out of control inside their own car. It scares me to death every time I think of those moments,” says entrepreneur Zakia Jeelani, 38, who also happens to be Indian model and actress Gaushar Khan’s elder sister. According to Jeelani, the three got locked inside after the key accidentally slid and got stuck in the boot just as the family finished loading camping gear after lunch before heading out to the desert on UAE National Day.


Running out of time

“They sat in the car around 2.15pm and couldn’t come out before 4.30pm. I was horrified that I was running out of time because my mother suffers from hypertension and my son is claustrophobic. If only there was some feature in the car that enabled them to open the doors as in any regular car then we would have been spared this real life drama,” said Jeelani, from Mumbai.

“We tried everything we could to pull out the key. We used our hair clips, fingers and sheer strength but the key just wouldn’t come out. What was worse, the entire car got shut off so there was no AC, making it sweltering hot inside and we were soon struggling to breathe, while sweating profusely. We thought we were either going to collapse soon or die from lack of oxygen,” said Rafa, a fifth grader at Emirates International School, as she recounted her horror to XPRESS. “We couldn’t even take out tissues from the tissue box because that too was locked. Surprisingly though the radio played and we felt comforted by listening to the Quran,” added Razia Khan, Rafa’s grandmother.

“Apparently the car in these situations gets into what they call a deadlock when the computerised car completely shuts down and absolutely nothing except its keys can unlock it. It’s as good as a death trap,” says Jeelani. “The car companies have to take ownership. What if lives were actually lost inside? What amazes me is their brazen refusal to even repair the window, let alone an apology,” she said. She regretted that her spare keys were with their driver who was enjoying a day off in Fujairah at the time.

A spokesperson from the car company said: “We are in constant communication with our dealer and the customer on this issue. We have sent our technician to give a complete check of her car. In the meantime, we will ensure the window is repaired free of charge as quickly as possible.”