One person was killed and over 45 injured in a head-on collision between two luxury buses at 4.30 am on Sunday, on the Pune-Satara highway leading to Khandala near Khambatki tunnel. The deceased has been identified as Deepak Shivaji Nikam, a resident of Indiranagar, Thane.
This bus, owned by Sajari Travels, was travelling from Mumbai and was heading to Shirol-Chincholi near Satara. Travellers say that the bus driver had taken the bus down the wrong lane.
It was the Khandala Rescue Team (KRT), formed by local youngsters to rescue and provide immediate medical care for accident victims at Khandala, that played a vital role in ensuring that the victims got immediate care.
The victims of the accident also confirmed that the rescuers garnered resources on time and took the injured to the hospital immediately, where they could get medical care. The team, consisting of 150-200 youngsters from the district, has created a strong network among the residents to ensure that they get updates of every such incident. KRT manages to reach a disaster zone before local police or disaster officials to help accident victims.
Injured: (Left) Sunanda Mane and Sunita Khot
One of the buses, owned by Paulo Travels, was heading to Mumbai from Goa, while the other bus, owned by Sajari Travels, was travelling in the opposite direction from Mumbai and was heading to Shirol-Chincholi near Satara. The head-on collision left 45 passengers from the two buses with minor injuries.
After the collision, it was KRT which first received the call about the incident from a local tea vendor near the accident spot. All the hoteliers and roadside stalls have been told by the KRT members to contact them at such times.
“As soon as we received a call, around 20-25 of our boys reached the spot along with the ambulance that we have. We also called and informed the disaster management team and police officials, who garnered more resources and reached the spot after some time. Till then we had started shifting the injured to Khandala Government Hospital for primary medical care,” said Ajit Yadav, core member of the KRT team.
Accident victims said that they managed to get immediate medical care after the incident due to KRT, and didn’t have to wait for help.
Vikhroli resident Sunanda Mane (40), who was travelling with her family of eight to their village Yelapur in Sangli district, said that they were moved to the hospital within 15 minutes of the incident. “We were all sleeping when the incident took place. When we got out of the mangled remains, my teeth had punctured my lips. The same happened with my husband, his front teeth fell out due to the collision. But moments after we came out, there were ambulances in which we were sent to the government hospital and later shifted to Jogalekar Hospital,” said Mane.
Anand Patil (55), a resident of Thane who was on his way to his native place, said that they were woken up due to the impact of the collision. “Our bus driver, in order to avoid traffic, steered the bus towards the opposite lane and rammed head on with a bus coming from the opposite direction. The impact was such that our bus was dragged a few meters and came to a halt after falling into a slope besides the road. Soon after the incident the driver fled the spot. Since I was seated at the back of the bus, I did not sustain serious injuries,” said Patil.
A few of the Mumbaikars brought their relatives home after the incident, once they contacted them at Khandala Government Hospital. Andheri resident Manmohan Gupta (22) whose 30-year-old sister Anju Gupta was returning from Goa received a call at around 5.45 am about the incident. “We were updated by the police officials about the matter. My sister fractured her ankle due to the impact of the collision. As soon as we traced her to Khandala Government Hospital, with the doctor’s permission, we brought her back to Mumbai. We have admitted her to Aditya Nursing Home, doctors have plastered her leg and she is stable now,” said Manmohan.
A team of around 200 youngsters from Khandala district, KRT was born out of the social activities of Ajit Yadav’s own crane business alongside highways. Yadav created an official group of youngsters ranging from 18 to 30 years and residing in the district. Launched in January this year, KRT has assisted local authorities in a total of 55-60 accidents till date. The group also has its own ambulance and a network of vendors, hoteliers and shop owners to get updates about such accidents.
Ashok Shelke, senior police inspector of Khandala Police Station said, "As of now, we are tracing the relatives of the victims and ensuring that they are getting medical care. According to the statements of the travellers, it seems to be the fault of the Sajari Travels bus driver who was travelling in the wrong lane. Once we are through with the statements of the victims, an FIR will be filed against the concerned authorities of the travel firm,” said Shelke. On the quick response of the KRT, he said, “KRT has become the friend of our local police stations — they always rush to the help of victims."