RAJ APNATH, one of the passengers on the Nikhil Travels bus, said his two friends and him had warned the driver against speeding a few hours before the accident. The 21-year-old catering supervisor had boarded the bus from Satara around 10.30 pm on Saturday.
Apnath was travelling to Mumbai with his two friends.
“Though we were told that the bus would start at 10.30 pm sharp, it was delayed by over 30 minutes, until all the seats were full. We realised that the driver was speeding to make up for the delay and he did not even slow down on speed-breakers. We complained to him around 1 am after our heads hit the roof a couple of times,” said Apnath.
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Over an hour into the journey, he said, it started raining heavily and the roof of the bus was leaking. “When we went to the driver to complain, we realised that the wipers of the bus were also not working. It was so dark outside that we were wondering how he could drive,” Apnath recalled.
He said he had warned the driver against speeding. “I slept a few hours after that, only to wake up to the sound of people screaming. Passengers seated at the back are alive because those seats did not suffer much damage. When the bus fell, passengers fell on top of each other. Many got crushed under the jammed windows and the mangled metal of the bus,” said Apnath.
He said they usually travelled by train on this route.
“We took the luxury bus because one of my friends had sustained burns when on a catering assignment in Satara. He insisted that we take the bus for a comfortable ride as against our usual train travel. We are fortunate to have come out alive from it,” said Apnath.
“It is peak season for travel since the summer vacation is coming to an end. The driver might have been doing a double shift without any rest,” said a relative of one of the victims.
Police said they would probe to see if this was the case.
DCP Vishwas Pandhare said the police had so far not summoned the travel company to which the bus belonged.