Two days after he was reported missing after he went swimming off the Versova beach, the body of Vaibhav Gaud (13) was found on Wednesday morning at around 6.30 am. His friend Rehan Ansari (12), who had also gone for a swim with Vaibhav after Janmashtami celebrations, remains admitted in the Dr R N Cooper hospital’s intensive care unit.
Vaibhav, a Class 7 student, had left home on Monday, informing his mother he was going to celebrate Dahi Handi. “He just had tea, bread and butter. He took his bat and left for Yaari Road when his friend came calling. He returned soaked in dahi,” said mother Shakuntala, who lives off Versova’s Bazar Gully. Around 1.30 pm on Monday when Vaibhav returned, he peeked through their ground-floor home’s window and kept his bat by the window side. “He had got a stone with my initial inscribed on it. He gave me that and said he’ll return in five minutes. He never informed me he was going to the beach,” his mother said.
The family had moved to Versova two years ago. Rakesh Gaud, the boy’s father, who owns a chaat stall in Andheri West, said children in the locality are generally told not to go to the shore. “There is no life guard. Nobody has ever appealed for one,” he said. Vaibhav, along with three friends Rehan, Aayush Khanduraindar (13) and Harsh Amol Koli (12), reached Versova beach by afternoon.
According to Harsh, who was rescued immediately by a local resident, Rehan challenged everyone to go deep into the water to bathe. “Harsh’s footwear slipped, so he remained behind. My son was tall, he kept going further in,” his father said. The children claimed they suddenly slipped as the seabed got deeper. A local resident rescued Aayush and Harsh, while Rehan was rescued later. Rehan was rushed to Dr R N Cooper hospital in a critical condition. “We put him on oxygen support,” said Dr Rajesh Sukhadev, medical superintendent at the hospital. By Wednesday, Rehan’s condition was stable.
According to Vaibhav’s family, search operations were allegedly slow because of Janmashtami celebrations on Monday. “The Navy boat wasn’t even working. The fire brigade and police were slow in looking for the body. They limited themselves to a circle in the water and kept going in a loop,” Vaibhav’s elder brother Vikas (21) alleged.
Vaibhav’s body was found near Tere Galli at 6.30 am on Wednesday. “For two days we were searching around shores. Today in the morning someone knocked on my door saying his body has been found,” his father said. According to the post-mortem conducted at the Dr RN Cooper hospital, Vaibhav’s body came in a semi-decomposed state. “He died due to drowning,” an official from the forensic department said. Vaibhav is survived by his elder brother, sister and parents. His parents said Rehan has been constantly asking for Vaibhav ever since he gained consciousness.