Tragedy on Mumbai-Goa highway: Sleepy driver leaves 3 dead, 19 injured

Homeward journey proved fatal for three persons, after a private minibus they were travelling in from Ratnagiri crashed into a tree on the Mumbai-Goa highway around 3.30 am on Sunday.

The mangled remains of the minibus that was on its way to Mumbai from Ratnagiri
The mangled remains of the minibus that was on its way to Mumbai from Ratnagiri

Also, 20 others were injured in the mishap — including the driver. Soon after receiving emergency medical aid at the Mahad district hospital, all the injured, excluding the driver, were shifted to KEM Hospital. The deceased were identified as bus owner Nilesh Jambhale (32), Shalini Sangare (60) and Pradeep Sangare (12). While Jambhale and Pradeep died on the spot, Shalini was declared dead on arrival at KEM Hospital.

The injured alleged that the accident occurred because the bus driver fell asleep behind the wheel. A few of them even claimed that the driver had come to Ratnagiri the previous night and was driving back to Mumbai, as there was no replacement available. They claimed that the driver looked exhausted.

Eyes wide open
Narrating the incident, Govandi resident Balwant Mohite (34) said, “I never sleep while travelling. And since the entire family was touring together, I was wide-awake. From time to time I could feel the bus going off-road. But initially I thought that the driver was giving way for the motorists trying to overtake.” “Suddenly I felt a jerk, and it was so hard that my seat broke and I crashed into the seat in front.

Other passengers were injured in the same fashion, as their seats came loose. Soon, we realised that the bus had crashed into a tree,” Mohite added. He recalled that the entire family was returning home after attending a wedding in Ratnagiri. Mohite said his two-year-old son Atharwa fractured his left arm and sustained bruises in the mishap, just like the other family members.

He said that after regaining composure, he started helping co-passengers to get out of the bus and called for help. Soon, villagers from neighbouring areas joined in and helped transport the injured to the district hospital for primary medical aid.

Lucky escape
11-month-old Shreyas Gaikwad escaped with a minor bump on his forehead. His aunt said that the entire family, including his 12-year-old sister Saloni, father Nandu (34) and mother Seema (38) sustained fractures,
ligament tears and sprains. “It was Mohite who brought the child out of the bus, and thankfully nothing major happened to him. The family had gone to their hometown in Ratnagiri to spend the summer holidays,” she said.

Insult to injury
While the Mohites and the Gaikwads were shifted to KEM in municipal ambulances for free, the Kamble family had to pay Rs 8,000 as they travelled in a private ambulance, unknowingly. “All the other patients travelled in municipal ambulances. We were clueless that the ambulance we got was private.

We realised it only after reaching KEM, when the ambulance driver asked us for money. The relatives who had come to see us footed the bill, as we had lost all our money (kept in the luggage) in the accident,” said Ramchandra Kamble (48). While Kamble injured his right knee in the mishap, his daughter Minakshi sustained bruises. She was discharged soon after receiving treatment.

Lost forever?
All the passengers onboard claimed to have lost their luggage, and are clueless whether it will ever be recovered. “I’m only worried about the important documents I had. They are official papers and I need to retrieve them at any cost,” said Mohite. Doctors at KEM Hospital said that none of the injured were critical and almost all would be discharged soon. At the time of copy going to the press, the driver was still at the Mahad district hospital.

Lucky survivors

Balwant Mohite (34) 
Rekha Mohite (30)
Raghunath Mohite (26) 
Prajwal Mohite (2) 
Atharwa Mohite (2)
Ramchandra Kamble (48) 
Minakshi Kamble (16)
Nandu Gaikwad (34)
Seema Gaikwad (38)
Saloni Gaikwad (12)
Shreyas Gaikwad (11 months)
Rajesh Padwal (35)
Manshi Padwal (10)
Aryan Padwal (5)
Jyotsna Padwal (30) 
Vithhal Ghadshi (53) 
Sanjivani Jadhav 
Sakshi Jadhav 
Swayam Jadhav

- List of injured passengers

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