Eager to board a bus that would take him back home from Goa, Goregaon resident Madhukar Singh was crestfallen when he was told that the packed bus could not accommodate his family. The man is now counting his blessings, having narrowly averting catastrophe — the same bus, while winding its way towards Mumbai, plunged into the river in Ratnagiri district in the early hours yesterday.
Singh, who was holidaying in Goa with his wife and nine-month-old son, couldn’t board the private bus as only one ticket was available, when he needed two. Disappointed, he took the one that departed half an hour later.
The accident occurred around 3.30 am near Khed, when the driver was negotiating a steep turn and lost control of the vehicle, which then plummeted down a height of 40 ft from the Jagbudi Bridge, killing 37 passengers.
Singh, who is in the business of supplying camera equipment, had reached Goa on March 15 for a short trip. He said, “After spending quality time in Goa, we were supposed to take a bus to Mumbai. We reached Mapusa in the evening. We wanted to take the Mahakali Travels bus.”
He added, “There was a bus at 7 pm, which we wanted to board as it was an AC sleeper. But only a single ticket was available for that bus, though we wanted two. After trying to arrange for one extra berth for a while, they told us that another bus would be departing in half an hour. So, we decided to wait for that one. I was not very enthusiastic about boarding this bus as it was a non-AC sleeper. But I had no choice.”
The family’s path crossed with the bus yet again around 9.30 pm, when their bus halted at a dhaba. Singh said, “The bus that we couldn’t board had also halted there. Even then, I wished that I could have boarded it, as it was air-conditioned.”
The next morning at 7.30, Singh started receiving frantic phone calls from his worried relatives and friends, asking him if he and his family were safe.
“I was shocked when they said that a bus had fallen off the bridge on its way to Mumbai. I enquired with the driver, who later confirmed that it was the same bus which I had missed.”
Singh reached Mumbai at 11 am.
Speaking to MiD DAY, he said, “When I learnt that the same bus which I was insisting on fell off the bridge claiming many lives, I was shocked and scared. I thank God and feel extremely lucky to be safe and alive. I am happy that my whole family is safe and sound.”