Three doctors from three parts of the country, each living their dream of saving lives in the country’s most prestigious hospital. The three died when a birthday celebration ended in a fatal car crash. On Sunday morning, Harshad Wankhede (34), Yashpreet Singh (25) and Himbala (25) were en route to Agra with four other colleagues when their car rammed a truck on the Yamuna Expressway.
It was Wankhede’s birthday on Saturday — he had just turned 34. Hailing from Maharashtra’s Akola district, Wankhede had joined AIIMS on July 1, 2017, as a senior resident doctor. Prior to this, he was in the medical college at Baroda. Fond of traveling, particularly to the hills, his friends said that Wankhede had gone to Himachal Pradesh and Sri Lanka in the past year.
Singh, a junior resident (non-academic) doctor, had joined the hospital on January 1 this year. From Fazilka in Punjab, he was fond of Punjabi pop songs, and followed English and Spanish football, his friends said. Apart from the birthday celebrations, the seven were also bidding farewell to Himbala. From Haryana’s Yamunanagar, she had joined AIIMS along with Singh. She, too, had left the residency four days ago to prepare for her postgraduate medical exams, colleagues said.
Their friends maintained that each was innately aware of the arduous journey they had to take to eventually get to AIIMS. The long hours, the stress of constantly dealing with emergencies and life-and-death situations meant that the plans they made were often sudden. The plan to visit Agra was one such impromptu decision, colleagues said.
Wankhede had finished his morning shift at 2 pm on Saturday, following which his colleagues at the department threw him a small, muted celebration. “They had decided to make a quick trip to Agra during dinner on Saturday. They planned to come back by their next shift at 9 pm on Sunday,” said Ritin Mohindra, Assistant Professor, Emergency Medicine at AIIMS.
Singh borrowed a Chandigarh-registered Innova car that from his cousin and met his colleagues for dinner at Connaught Place. From there, they headed to Agra. “Singh had been driving the car till Jewar toll plaza, after which Wankhede took over. Our colleagues who survived said neither of them had been drinking during dinner,” Mohindra said.