As the photograph on Page 2 clearly shows, only the front of the ill-fated Blueline was crushed under the falling launcher. The first casualty, therefore, was bus driver Surendra Pal Singh.
But the reason why the rest of the bus escaped serious damage was that Singh had braked hard the moment he saw the launcher collapsing.
“It was the driver who saved the lives of the commuters inside. I saw the whole thing literally falling on his face. It was horrific,” said Rajneesh Kumar, a local resident, who was out on a morning walk when the accident happened.
“He was on his first round of the day. The people at the accident spot told us that he saw the whole thing falling and applied the brakes on time. He saved so many lives but could not save his own,” said Singh’s brother Rakesh Pal.
Singh was rushed to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital, where he was declared brought dead.
Singh, 28, and his wife, Kavita, were married four years ago, and the couple had been blessed with a son just two months back. In fact, they had performed his naming ceremony only last week.
Singh was a veteran driver on route 39. He had been on the route for nearly seven years, and – friends say – never been in an accident.
As the news of his death spread, friends and family members gathered outside Singh’s house in Tri Nagar’s Narang Colony. “He used to get really angry when he read about Blueline bus drivers involved in accidents. He always said that drivers should learn to drive safely,” said Manish Kumar, who grew up with Singh in the same locality.
With Singh dead, the family now has only one wish: to raise his son Yogesh the way he wanted to.