A highway traffic policeman Thursday averted a major accident on the Pune-Solapur Highway by climbing into a moving gas tanker and bringing it under control after its driver fell unconscious at the wheel.
The incident took place around 8.30 am at Savleshwar toll plaza in Solapur district when four gas tankers were travelling to Pakni town from Uran in Navi Mumbai. Police said the last of these four tankers began drifting dangerously after its driver, Sanjay Patil (36), paid the toll.
As the tanker passed by, Constable Sanjay Chaughule of the Maharashtra State Highway Police said he could not spot the driver in his seat. A few policemen stopped the traffic behind the tanker while Chaughule chased the vehicle. “I ran after it for about 100 metres and opened the driver’s side door. As soon as it opened, I saw that Patil was unconscious and was lying half out of his seat. I feared that he may fall out of the vehicle, so I supported him with one hand and used the other hand to pull myself inside the tanker,” Chaughule said.
The constable then moved Patil’s foot off the accelerator, applied the brakes and managed to bring the tanker to a stop after it had moved 150 metres ahead. “Just ahead of us there were a few vehicles parked with people inside. Anything could have happened,” he said.
The policemen then administered Patil first-aid and called in a doctor. After regaining consciousness, Patil declined the offer of being taken to the hospital. “We contacted Patil’s manager and asked him to send another man to drive the tanker to its destination. We put Patil in another vehicle and sent him to his home in Osmanabad,” Chaughule added.
Patil’s parents called Chaughule later on Thursday to thank him. They said Patil had recently suffered a head injury after falling off his motorbike. “His mother had asked him to go to a doctor for a check-up, but the driver said he would get a scan after he returned from this trip,” said Chaughule.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh praised Chaughule after the Solapur Rural Police tweeted a picture of his rescue. Bhushan Kumar Upadhyay, Additional Director General of Police, Maharashtra State Highway Police, has announced a reward of Rs 5,000 for the constable. “Chaughule averted a big catastrophe,” Upadhyay said.
Manoj Patil, Superintendent of Police, Solapur Rural, said the tanker would have kept moving had Chaughule not intervened. “The road slopes downwards ahead of the toll plaza. A major accident could have taken place had he not stopped the tanker on time,” he said.
Acknowledging the risk to his own life, Chaughule said his only thought at that time was to stop the tanker and save Patil. “It is my duty,” he said.
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