6 killed as dumper crashes into 11 vehicles on NH4

A Dombivli family, returning home after attending a wedding in Satara, was nearly wiped out in the accident on NH4, with three of its four members killed and a 14-year-old critical; six were killed in all and eight were injured

The driver of a dumper went on a rampage in Pune yesterday, hitting a bus, five cars and a six-seater tempo before flying off the side of a flyover, taking two of the cars with him.

This is what was left of the Santro in which the Sawants and their neighbour were travelling
This is what was left of the Santro in which the Sawants and their neighbour were travelling

The rain of destruction continued below, with the dumper and the cars plunging 30 feet to a service road, where they landed on four moving two-wheelers and mowed down a man who was on a morning walk.

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The bus that the dumper had hit came to a halt after hitting a tree
The bus that the dumper had hit came to a halt after hitting a tree

When the truck finally came to a rest, the driver fled, leaving six dead, eight injured and scores of people shaken. Four of the deceased were from Dombivli and were returning to Mumbai in a Santro after attending a wedding in their hometown, Wai, in Satara.

The deceased have been identified as Ravindra Sawant (35), his wife Sarika (30) and daughter Revati (10), all of whom were from the Sudam Patil Chawl in Dombivli, and their neighbour Subhash Vinayak Chaudhari (35). The Sawant family was nearly wiped out in the incident, with the sole survivor, Rachana (14), said to be in a critical condition.

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The others who lost their lives were Balaji Rathod (25) from Dhankawadi in Pune, who was on a morning walk, and Maherbar Gaikwad (23), from Dhayari, who was on a two-wheeler. A case has been registered with the Sinhagad Road police station in Pune against the unknown driver of the dumper, whose registration number is MH-12-HD-3659.

It begins
It was just another morning in Pune and the dumper, carrying construction material, was heading from Katraj to Warje via the National Highway 4 (NH4). Around 8 am, when the driver was in the middle of the Wadgaon flyover, he lost control of his massive vehicle, hitting a bus first.

“We were travelling in a luxury bus and were heading to Mumbai. We were fast asleep and suddenly we heard this crashing sound. We woke up with a start only to find that our bus’ driver was struggling to keep the vehicle on the road. He managed to get us down the flyover safely but failed to keep the bus on the road after that.

The bus came to a halt only after hitting a tree by the side of the road,” said Shivaji Pawar from Satara. “Fortunately, none of us in the bus suffered any serious injuries. I had seen the dumper driver ramming into other vehicles after hitting our bus,” he added.

Wreaking havoc
The dumper hit five cars and a six-seater tempo with such force that two of the cars, including the Santro in which the Sawants and Chaudhari were travelling, breached the safety wall of the flyover and were sent plunging 30 feet, along with the dumper, to the service road below. The cars and the dumper landed on four two-wheelers.

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Constable Harish Gaikwad, from Sinhagad road police station, said, “As soon as we received the call, we rushed to the spot and alerted the fire brigade. We called for an ambulance and asked for additional manpower. Before the fire brigade arrived, we began pulling out people from the cars and the bus.”

Trail of death
“During our rescue operation, we could hear a girl’s cries from Sawant’s car. We pulled Rachana Sawant (14) out and rushed her to a hospital, where she is undergoing treatment in the ICU. Her parents and sister had died on the spot.

The Sawants and their neighbour Subhash Chaudhari, who also lost his life, had gone to their hometown in Wai to attend a wedding and they were returning home to Dombivli when the mishap took place,” said Inspector (Crime) J V Koli of the Sinhagad Road police.

Ravindra Sawant’s brother, who rushed to the spot from Satara after the police alerted him about the accident, said, “Sawant worked in a CCTV installation company in Mumbai. The family had shifted to Mumbai from Satara two years ago to ensure that the children got access to better education.”

“Balaji Rathod, who is a local, was out on a morning walk when he was mowed down and Maherbar Gaikwad, who was a painter, was heading home from his workplace on a two-wheeler with his monthly salary when he lost his life, ” said Inspector Koli.

Speeding dumper’s brakes failed?
“Due to speeding, the dumper’s driver lost control of his vehicle and hit the luxury bus, which rammed into a tree. The dumper hit several cars before falling onto the service road.

The dumper that started it all
The dumper that started it all

Six people have been killed and more than eight people have sustained injuries, of which four are critical,” said Inspector J V Koli. “We suspect that the dumper was being driven at a high speed and it seems the brakes had failed.

Traffic was disturbed for more than four hours as we had to lift the vehicles off the road with the help of cranes. A hunt is on for the dumper’s driver,” he added.

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