In a waiting room at the JJ Hospital, with his younger brother next to him, Vinay’s attention appeared to be focused on his father’s bloodstained spectacles which he was holding. “We escaped but they couldn’t,” 24-year-old Vinay told The Indian Express hours after a tragic accident on the Eastern freeway on Saturday. The fact that he would now have to shoulder the responsibility of the household was yet to register on Vinay.
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Vinay and his younger brother Ravi lost their father Harkesh, mother Rajeshree and younger sister Ragini in the accident. Three others from their family also died in the crash— their aunt Anara and their younger cousins Asha (12) and Rajkumar (8).
Vinay said his uncle, Mangru, the third survivor, was driving a taxi which wasn’t his on Saturday morning. “This our first trip to Mumbai and less than 24 hours of our stay I have lost my mother, father and sister,” said Vinay, who resides in Surat with his family was visiting the city for ‘Mumbai Darshan’ this weekend. “We were supposed to leave on Sunday. Now we are waiting for more relatives from Surat,” he said.
“I have seriously injured my right shoulder and cannot move my right side. My brother is in a semi conscious state and has hurt his face,” Vinay said.
Around 9 am when police reached the crash site, near pole number 9 on the Eastern Freeway, they found a “large man” in a red t-shirt trying to pull someone in a blue t-shirt out of a damaged kaali peeli. The “large man in red” was Vinay who was trying to pull his brother Ravikumar, while the driver was screaming for help. The others in the vehicle were unconscious.
A police officer attached to the nearby Pydhonie traffic chowky said the damaged car had left a trail of car parts behind — the bullguard, the overheard carrier, a tyre and even two passengers. “Of the two women, the body of one was dismembered,” said an eyewitness. The police pulled out Ravi first. They then pulled out the body of a woman from the backseat and later a 10-year-old who was trapped between the seats, both unconscious with evident head injuries.
In the co-driver’s seat was a man’s body with a young girl on him. The girl’s blue slippers still remained on the bloodied floor of the car that was towed from the freeway to Dongri police station. Police said Vinay and Ravi may have survived as they were seated on the left side of the vehicle which didn’t take the brunt of the collision.
Before the ambulance could arrive two taxis were stopped by traffic officials, who told the passengers to alight and then re-routed the vehicles to JJ hospital. One of Vinay’s aunts in Mumbai, Saraswati Verma, who lives in Wadala said she was only alerted an hour after the crash by relatives in Surat. “Our family in Surat was informed by the JJ hospital authorities. Last night we were all discussing a wedding in April and spoke till late in the night. They were all going to have lunch in my home today,” she said.
Saraswati said Harkesh and his wife Rajeshree visited Mumbai last week during Diwali when they decided to bring their children. A neighbour, Arun Verma, alleged that Mangru was in an inebriated condition at around 7.30 am on Saturday when he borrowed Rs 1,000 from him.