Chopper crashes at Aarey: Brave locals rescue three, pilot killed

Updated: Dec 12, 2016, 10:21 IST | Samiullah Khan

Despite trapped technician asking them to stay away from the burning fuselage, a group that was playing cricket in nearby field saves him and two passengers; unconscious pilot was declared brought dead

Rescuers pull out Ritesh Modi from the chopper wreckage
Rescuers pull out Ritesh Modi from the chopper wreckage

As the helicopter fell out of the sky, those on the ground had barely any warning – they heard an ominous groaning above their heads, and only had time to look up and see smoke before the chopper came crashing down.

The spot in Aarey Colony where the helicopter crashed. Pics/Satej Shinde
The spot in Aarey Colony where the helicopter crashed. Pics/Satej Shinde

It was too late to save the pilot, who died almost instantly, but thanks to the heroic efforts of the locals at Aarey Colony, the three other people in the crash were pulled out to safety.

Read Story: In Mumbai, pilot killed as private chopper crashes at Aarey Colony

Locals drag Ritesh Modi out of the burning chopper
Locals drag Ritesh Modi out of the burning chopper

Sultan Shaikh (30), one of the locals at Filterpada Unit no 22, recalled, “My friends and I were just sitting and talking when we heard a noise from above and saw the chopper plummet. At first, I thought the pilot must just be trying some stunt, but then we saw it fall all the way to the ground and burst into flames.”

Locals douse the flames
Locals douse the flames

Like Sultan, even Shabeer Sheikh didn’t make much of the helicopter at first. “Before the crash, when the helicopter was falling, we waved at it, thinking it was a flight drill or something. We were so wrong.”

Brinda Modi being pulled out alive
Brinda Modi being pulled out alive

Shabeer, Sultan and his friends — Faizaan Khan, Tabrez Khan, Shamshu, Javed Sayyed and Mohammad Hunaid Kazi — contacted the police and the fire brigade, and then ran to begin the rescue operation themselves.

'Screaming for help'
“We could hear the screams of a woman and three men, and everyone started running towards the crash site. The lady’s condition was terrible to look at – her hair and body were on fire. We wrapped her in a cloth and pulled off the parts of her clothes that were burning. That’s when she shouted that we must help the others too,” said Sultan.

Pilot Praful Mishra
Pilot Praful Mishra

The flight technician Sanjay Shankar was rescued first. “He kept warning us not to go close or try to rescue him because the chopper could blast any second,” said Sultan. Then they saw the woman’s husband (both were passengers) stuck in the wreckage. “He was badly stuck under the seat and had to be pulled out. We saw the pilot there as well; he had grave injuries and his head was bleeding. We had to cut his seatbelt and bring him out,” said Sultan.

The woman, Brinda Modi, was sent to the Seven Hills Hospital first in a private car, while her husband Ritesh and the flight technician were taken to hospital in a police van.

“The woman was badly injured and her clothes and hair were almost completely burnt. She was wrapped in a sheet and rushed to hospital,” recounted Abdur Rahman (69), a retired BEST bus driver.

The pilot was rescued last and sent to hospital in a Bolero, but was declared dead on arrival. However, thanks to all the efforts of the rescuers and locals, the remaining three are alive and are under treatment.

Cop speak
DCP Kiran Kumar Chavan (Zone XII) told mid-day, “There were four people in the helicopter. The pilot died in the crash, while three were seriously injured and have been admitted in Seven Hills Hospital. An ADR has been registered and further investigation is going on.”

In the crash
>> Pilot Praful Kumar Mishra (55)
>> Flight technician Sanjiv
>> Shankar (24)
>> Passenger Ritesh Modi (33)
>> Brinda Modi (31)

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