Gurunath Sathelkar and his team at an accident spot
A few Khopoli residents have been acting as Good Samaritans by rescuing people on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway for the last three years. They have saved more than 700 lives and have often reached the spot much before the police and other administrative authorities.
Two years ago, Gurunath Sathelkar (52), a resident of Mountain View Residency in Khopoli, started a group on WhatsApp called Apaghatgrashta Madatil, which means "accident help group" on which were more than 150 members, including other local residents, highway officers, local policemen, regional transport officers, doctors, crane drivers, ambulances and others. This group works round the clock and Sathelkar himself funds the initiative which offers training in rescue work and also provides emergency clothes, shoes and other rescue materials.
Speaking to mid-day, Sathelkar, who is also a landscaping businessman, said, "Prior to having my own business, I used to travel daily by NH4 and saw many accidents which would result in death and traffic issues. These accidents were due to poor infrastructure. Later, the new Mumbai-Pune Expressway was built. We are well versed with the internal short cuts as well, so it's easy for us to rush to the spot."
He also said that they don't charge for this service. "It's our way of helping people. When an accident takes place, we first find out whom the car is registered with through the RTO, and then contact the family members of the victims . We have also helped people get blood'."
The Superintendent of Police (Highway), Rupali Ambure, said, "This group is a great initiative and they have been helping us with many rescue operations. By working with us, they have lessened our burden. As soon as we inform them, they get there with their team."
1 dead, 4 injured in highway crash
On Saturday, five people from Dapodi travelling on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway in a Creta with the number Mh09-DX-9002 rammed into a telephone booth. Ijayat Mulla, 60, died on the spot while four others were rushed to hospital. A case has been registered with Khalapur police station.
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