'Sandeep wanted a watch from my wife for Bhau Beej'

Following the tragic death of Sandeep Patade who fell off a cliff after being attacked by a swarm of bees at Igatpuri, MiD DAY spoke to Sandeep’s family, who said that he was looking forward to spending Diwali with them. A resident of Mulund, Sandeep was a second officer in the Merchant Navy and was in the city for examinations.

Sandeep Patade
Sad ending: A frequent trekker, Sandeep Patade was familiar with the Dangya cliff area as he had recently been on a trek there

According to Sandeep’s family, he would go trekking almost every weekend. On November 10, Sandeep and a few friends went for a weekend trek to Igatpuri, and were scheduled to return home the next day as he had his oral exams on Monday. A relative from the family said, “He was very courageous and was never afraid of scaling heights. Whenever he was in the city on a leave, he would make it a point to go on a trek. He has trekked almost every mountain and hill fort in the state and was a member of a trek group called Eagle Trekkers. It is very unfortunate that he died just a few days before Diwali.”

Sandeep’s father Ramesh (62) is a retired BMC employee while his mother Chhaya is a housewife. Sandeep was the youngest in the family, with two elder sisters. His parents had been looking for a bride to get their only son married soon. According to relatives, if Sandeep had cleared his exams, he would have been promoted to the rank of chief officer.

Amol Malgaonkar, Sandeep’s brother-in-law, said, “Sandeep had come home 5 months back to appear for a few exams related to his promotion. His exams had started last week and he had a holiday on Saturday. He immediately planned this trip to Igatpuri with his friends.” He added, “Sandeep had told my wife to get him a wristwatch for a gift this Bhau-bheej. My wife had already bought a watch and was eagerly waiting to gift it to him. All the preparations for a grand Diwali this year have been ruined.”

Sandeep was familiar with the Dangya cliff as he had recently been on a trek to the spot. He was leading the group climbing the cliff and had prepared himself with all the safety gear needed during a trek. When they were halfway through the climb, a few bees attacked Sandeep from the bushes. Within minutes, a swarm of bees came out of nowhere and attacked the entire group. While the group was wearing track pants and full-sleeved T-shirts, Sandeep wore shorts and a T-shirt and was the most affected.

While trying to evade the bees, Sandeep lost control of the rope and in the confusion opened the clip of his safety rope. Losing his balance, he rolled off the cliff and fell to his death while his friends sustained minor injuries.

Sandeep’s body was brought to the city on Sunday evening and his last rites were performed by the same night.  

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