The staff at the Ernakulam unit of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) are in a state of anguish after the loss of two of their colleagues in the accident that took place on the highway near Avinashi town in Tiruppur district of Tamil Nadu Thursday morning.
At least 19 people, including driver VD Gireesh, conductor VR Baiju and other passengers died in the early morning collision between the Volvo air-conditioned bus and the container truck. According to preliminary reports, one of the tyres of the container truck burst, after which it crossed the median on the highway and crashed into the right side of the bus coming from the opposite direction. The bus was on its overnight service from Bengaluru to Ernakulam, with most of its passengers hailing from Kerala.
KSRTC staff fondly remember the services of Gireesh and Baiju, especially their generosity towards passengers on the bus. And one of the striking memories they have is of an incident that took place in June 2018 for which the duo were commended by the KSRTC.
The incident was first reported in a community blog of the KSRTC that year. On June 3, 2018, Gireesh and Baiju were manning the Ernakulam-Bengaluru overnight Volvo service when a passenger, Dr Kavitha Varier, boarded from Thrissur. Mid-way into the journey, Dr Kavitha began to experience seizures and became violently ill. By then, the bus had reached Hosur and was inching closer towards the Karnataka border. At this point, Gireesh, as recommended by the passengers, turned the bus around to make its way towards the nearest hospital.
“On the night that I boarded the bus, I had my two-year-old daughter with me who was not well. I had also not eaten and was not feeling well. So I had told both Baiju-ettan and Gireesh-ettan that I was not well. They asked me about my dropping-point in Bengaluru. Around 12:30-1 am, I felt a bit of uneasiness. I told the passenger next to me that I was not feeling well. The next moment, when I opened my eyes, I was in the hospital and Baiju ettan was sitting in front of me. He told me not to worry and that everything would be alright,” Dr Kavitha told iemalayalam.com over the phone. She was admitted to the hospital that night following seizures.
When Baiju asked his superiors at Bengaluru and Thrissur, he was told to stay put and take care of the patient. The driver-conductor duo deposited the admission fees at the hospital. Doctors informed the crew that the patient was critical and for treatment to begin, someone had to be a bystander. Since the family of the patient would take several hours to travel from Thrissur to the hospital, Baiju agreed to stand-in at the hospital till they arrived.
“He (Baiju) was very supportive. Just as a father would behave, he was very caring. He assured my mother over the phone that there was nothing to worry and that everything was alright. He was a very good human being. At a time when we hear so many reports of assault against women, I feel so lucky that it was a person like him who helped me that day,” she said.
When she heard the news of the demise of Baiju and Gireesh in the bus collision today, Dr Kavitha was understandably shocked. “After that incident, I’ve never been able to talk to Baiju ettan though both of us wanted to. I think we lost a good human being today.”
Baiju and Gireesh’s heartwarming efforts to save the life of a patient onboard the bus that night were duly commended later that month. Then KSRTC MD Tomin J Thachankary, in a letter, praised the duo for their action that elevated the image of the state bus corporation.
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