Chopper crash: Vrinda Modi dies after 13-day battle for life

Her condition had worsened in last two days; husband Ritesh had died two days after crash

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Pune | Published: December 25, 2016 3:22:51 am
The chopper ride had been Ritesh Modi’s gift to Vrinda on their sixth wedding anniversary. The chopper ride had been Ritesh Modi’s gift to Vrinda on their sixth wedding anniversary.

Vrinda Modi, who was injured along with husband Ritesh Modi when a Robinson R44 helicopter crashed near Aarey Colony on December 11, died on Saturday morning. Vrinda (33), who had been admitted to the Airoli Burns Institute, succumbed to multi-organ failure. Her condition had worsened in the last two days due to sepsis. According to family members, Vrinda’s body will be sent for post-mortem in Vashi following which her last rites will be conducted in Borivali.

Ritesh (36) had succumbed to multiple injuries at the Seven Hills Hospital two days after the crash. He had planned the joyride as a surprise for his wife on their wedding anniversary. The R44, owned by Aman Aviation, had taken off with pilot Praful Kumar Mishra (57) at the controls, the couple and technician Sanjeev Sharma.

The chopper crashed after its clutch mechanism apparently developed problems. Mishra died in the crash. Ritesh and Vrinda had been pulled out of the wreckage with grievous injuries and rushed to hospital. Sharma survived with fractures to his hand and leg. Ritesh had died two days later.

Vrinda, who was a senior executive with a private firm, had suffered severe burns and was initially treated at the Seven Hills Hospital. She was shifted to the Airoli Burns Institute on December 14 for treatment of third-degree burns. According to Dr Sunil Keswani, she had deep burns on the back, neck and limbs. In the last two days, she suffered from infections caused by the burns. “She was critical due to third-degree extensive burns,” said Keswani.

Vrinda was operated for skin grafting, in which a team of specialists used her own skin and skin from the skin bank for grafting. “We removed a lot of dead cells. But the burns had reached the deepest layers of her epidermis,” said Keswani. Two days ago, Vrinda developed a bacterial infection, which spread faster in her body due to deep burns. She was put on ventilator support before she succumbed.

Doctors and her family members had, however, not told her that Ritesh passed away 10 days ago. She was made to believe he was recovering well. A special team of experts for infection control was assigned after she developed the bacterial infection but her organs started failing rapidly in two days. The couple leaves behind their two-year-old son, Aariv, now under the care of Ritesh’s septuagenarian parents in Borivli. The family has demanded that till Aman Aviation’s maintenance and security procedures are not exhaustively checked by the authorities, the firm should not be allowed to fly choppers for joyrides.

“For us, everything is now gone. At least, other lives should not be at stake because of these joyrides. Security protocols must be tighter for companies to fly choppers,” said Jaimin Parekh, Modi’s brother-in-law. In their Borivli flat, the couple lived with his parents, both retired. Ritesh has a sister, who is married and lives in Mumbai.

“Vrinda had multiple burns, but was conscious. In the last few days, we were all busy monitoring her treatment. But now we will wait for the preliminary report on the crash,” said Parekh. The chopper was supposed to cover Powai and Vihar lake and return back to Juhu. According to preliminary findings, clutch failure during the return leg led to the crash. The chopper was 23 years old and had been purchased from Pawan Hans, which previously owned it. Aman Aviation began operations in 2011 out of Juhu aerodrome.

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