Tragic: Father, son drown after overcrowded boat turns turtle
Seven members of the family were given a four-seater pedal boat at the Titwala lake; survivors say boat club gave them no life jackets, and authorities from the nearby temple refused to help them
A resident of Ulhasnagar and his son met a tragic end in a boating mishap at Titwala lake on Monday evening. The family of seven had taken a pedal boat that turned turtle at the pond near the famous Ganesh temple.
The deceased Narian Matreja and his elder son Ajay, drowned in a boating accident at a pond in Titwala
The deceased, identified as Narian Matreja (45) and his elder son Ajay (12), had taken the four-seat pedal boat from the Titwala Boat Club, along with their family wife Kavita (37), younger son Jay (9), brother-in-law Sonu Lulla (30), his wife Renu (26) and their daughter Arpana (3).
Narian was a local businessman who lived with his mother, wife and two children in Ulhasnagar. Pics/Prashant Waydande
Recounting the incident, the deceased’s wife, Kavita, said, “Around 7.30 pm, after we had taken a round of the pond, we noticed a leakage in the boat. Before we could react, the boat turned upside down and everyone was in the water, with the boat above our head.”
Survivors say that a person at the boat club levied extra charges and made them sit in the four-seater boat with no life jackets
Narian’s brother-in-law said, “As soon as we fell in the water, I caught hold of my daughter and took support of the overturned boat.” Locals present at the spot rescued five members after they heard their cries for help. But Narian and his son could not be saved. While the man’s body was found minutes later, his son’s body was recovered by 11 pm.
The surviving family members blamed the boat club and temple authorities for their lack of help. They revealed that a person at the boat club charged them extra money and made them sit in the four-seater boat.
The deceased’s wife alleged that there were no lifeguards or safety jackets available at the spot, and after the accident. The family also stated that the ambulance standing on the temple’s premises was not in working condition, and that they had to take Narian in an auto rickshaw.
“As I came out of the water, I asked for help to save my brother and his son. I even approached the temple authorities, but they refused, saying that the pond was not a part of their property. No one even bothered to call the police,” remarked Renu.
According to the deceased’s wife, she had to personally go to the police station to get help. “Despite going to the station, cops were not ready to come with me to the spot; it took them nearly two hours. Had the concerned authorities followed their duty, I wouldn’t have lost my husband and son,” she added.
The kin said that even after pointing out the spot where the boy drowned, authorities neglected them and took a long time to search his body, despite the small area of the pond. The lake falls under the jurisdiction of the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation, and relatives of the deceased are demanding compensation from the civic body for their loss.
S T Patil, ASI at Kalyan taluka police station, said, “We immediately dispatched a team at the spot. However, the boy’s body could only be recovered by 11 pm. We have started the investigation of the case.”
Police have registered a case under Section 304A (death due to negligence) against the Titwala Boat Club. However, no arrests have been made so far. Neither the boat club, nor the temple authorities could be reached for comment.