Mumbai: Bhau Daji Lad Musuem, lift vendor blame each other after freak mishap kills dentist
Top Mumbai dentist Arnavaz Havewala, 63, died on Thursday after being injured in elevator collapse on April 28
Less than a fortnight since celebrated dentist Arnavaz Havewala, 63, and her daughter, Hera, 24, were involved in a horrific accident in the lift at the Bhau Daj Lad museum housed inside the Byculla zoo, Havewala passed away of a cardiac arrest at Masina Hospital in Byculla on Thursday morning. Museum staff said that the incident occurred on April 28 afternoon when Dr Havewala and her daughter were coming down from the library on the first floor to the documentation centre on the ground floor.
"The lift is meant for the disabled or the elderly. After they entered the lift, the door was not closed properly and the lift got stuck. The staff members tried to get them out through the first floor but were unable to. They were talking to them to keep them calm while trying to figure out how to get them out, when the lift suddenly collapsed," said a staff member adding that the lift did not hit the bottom but fell to around 10 feet. The staff said that the distance between the two floors is around 30 feet. The staff member added that there was no lift operator at the time of the incident. The museum staff said an ambulance was called and they were taken to Masina hospital, as that was Dr Havewala's wish.
Masina Hospital released a statement after her death saying, "The patient, Dr Arnavaz Havewala, after she suffered a severe pelvic fracture and injury on her heels due to a fall from a height on April 28, 2019. She was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and later shifted to the ward where she was being monitored by an orthopaedic and general physician. The hospital provided the best possible treatment available, however, unfortunately, she succumbed to her injuries today" (Thursday, May 9). When this newspaper visited the hospital on Thursday afternoon, Dr Vispi Jokhi, chief executive officer refused to say any more, simply adding, "She was fine but then took a turn for the worse. Sometimes, things can go wrong. I do not wish to speculate."
Hera, too, had a fractured leg and a doctor from Masina said she had undergone surgery the same day of the incident. The doctor who has been working with Dr Havewala (senior dentist at Masina) said that around 5 am on Thursday, Dr Havewala's condition worsened. "She suffered a deep vein thrombosis which led to a cardiac arrest and around 7.30 am we heard that she had passed away," he said. He added that he had visited Dr Havewala after she was admitted and she had recounted her experience. "She said that she had felt sceptical about entering the elevator and she had also mentioned that she had planned to get in touch with the MLC of the area to complain against the museum authorities," said Havewala's colleague.
When this reporter visited Hera Havewala there was a steady stream of visitors to see her and offer condolences. A distraught Hera, who was moving with the help of a walker, said, "I do not wish to comment right now." A few relatives in the room also said they did not wish to say anything. Hera is supposed to be discharged from the hospital today (Friday). A hearse was standing at the door of the hospital to take the body to the Doongerwadi morgue. The family was awaiting the arrival of Arnavaz's son, Danesh, who is studying in Australia.
It was evident though that the family and hospital, too, is tight-lipped about the incident. A man who did not identify himself but claimed to be Hera's lawyer, called this reporter late in the evening, saying, "I am the lawyer and if you publish any rumours then there is going to be trouble for you all." When told that is precisely the reason why we were trying to contact Hera for her version, this lawyer said, "We do not want you to publish anything at all."
The hearse at Masina hospital on Thursday afternoon
Meanwhile, members from the Indian Dental Association (IDA) were at the hospital on Thursday afternoon as they wanted to arrange a condolence and memorial meeting for the well-known dentist. "She has left a huge void in the dentistry circles in the city," they said. Dr Devidas Jatkar, president, IDA, Mumbai, said, "Dr Havewala was to take over as president IDA Mumbai from 2020. This is an annual term and she was president-elect for the next year. She was an excellent professional and was a regular at most conferences, too."
Parsi chat groups on social media were abuzz with shock and outrage. Dinshaw Mehta, former chairman Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP) said, "The community wants answers and wants those responsible to compensate her children who are left without an earning member in the family."
Month when the lift was last serviced
Bhau Daji Lad Museum says
Tasneem Mehta, hon director and managing trustee, BDL, said, "The hydraulic lift is part of disability access and had been operational for 11 years without any complaints. The accident is terrible. The vendor, Expert Equipments, is supposed to visit every three months. But this time there was a delay and our staff members had been calling them." The museum staff added that the lift was last serviced in December 2018. "It is not our fault. If there were problems in the lift, Expert Equipments should have flagged the issue earlier. We have filed a police complaint against them. We have ensured Dr Havewala got the best private care at Masina and have been footing the medical bills as well." A museum staff member said that they have already paid around R2.5 lakh towards medical expenses for both Dr Havewala and her daughter.
Mehta added, "The hospital is responsible for the patient in their care. How did a pelvic fracture result in a cardiac arrest and that too 10 days after the accident? This raises questions about the hospital's management of the patient." When asked why the museum staff didn't inform the BMC, Mehta said that were only two staff members that day and they were busy rushing the injured to the hospital. Mehta confirmed that she had sent a letter of apology to Dr Havewala while she was hospitalised at Masina. She said that it was the right thing to do and it also stated that her medical expenses would be covered.
Based on the vendor's report filed on May 2: 'The accident happened because the car door had got stuck on the first floor Landing Level.' The report further stated, "As the car door was stuck at the Landing Level, the entire load of the lift was resting on the Car door. Once it gave away the entire lift came down with the bang." The vendor also pointed out that since the platform was stuck at the landing level, the lift's chain did not loosen due to which the emergency brake didn't get activated. The vendor also pointed out that the incident could have been avoided if there was a trained operator in the lift and suggested that the system be overhauled and the cabin be renovated. Despite calls and messages, Arvind Menon of Expert Equipments, could not be reached for a comment.
Civic body's side
When mid-day reached out to the civic authorities on Thursday, 10 days after the accident, they said they had not received any intimation about the accident or the injuries on April 28. A senior civic official pointed out that the museum staff should have ideally contacted the disaster management department or even the local ward officer. "In the BMC, there is a hierarchy in place and as a fiduciary custodian of a government property, it is their responsibility to inform us about the incident the day it happened. This also brings into question the manner in which they are maintaining the museum," said the official. Civic chief, Ajoy Mehta said, "I will need to look into the details of the incident and will then decide on a further course of action." While Tasneem Mehta said she had written to the civic chief to inform him about the incident two days after it had happened, Mehta said that he hadn't seen the letter.
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