Pradip Tiwari (16), the only student in his cash-strapped family, was supposed to go over to Safdurjung hospital for his father's surgery as soon as he got over with school on Wednesday.
Pradeep did not even make it to his school in Daryaganj.
The overloaded minibus — predominantly occupied by schoolchildren from northeast Delhi — he was travelling in, toppled over near the Kashmere Gate ISBT at 8:15 am on Wednesday morning. Three children, including Pradip, died in the accident. 17-year-old Mona Bisht and an unidentified 19-year-old student were among the fatalities.
“The bus was coming from Bhajanpura in northeast Delhi and was en route to Delhi Gate,” said Sagar Preet Hooda, Deputy Commissioner of Police, north Delhi.
An hour after the accident, more than 20 families were seen praying for the safety of their children, anxiously waiting outside the Sushruta Trauma Centre on Ring Road.
They were standing less than a 100 metres from the spot where the vehicle had tumbled, allegedly after its driver lost control due to a punctured rear left tyre, injuring all its occupants and crushing three of them — all in their late teens — to death.
Vimla Kumari (42) a resident of Khajuri Khas, heaved a sigh of relief when she saw her 18-year-old daughter, Jyoti, a class XII student of D.A.V School, Daryaganj limp out of the hospital— albeit with five stitches on her neck and an injured left leg.
“She had her second board practical exam today,” she said. “I know these minibuses are dangerous, but what can I do? We can't afford to give her enough money to travel in an auto rickshaw with the money that both my husband and I make,” she said, failing to hold back her tears.
18-year-old Sita, a class XII student of B.M Rastogi School, Bhagirath Place and the youngest of Malti Devi's three other daughters suffered a concussion, two stitches on her forehead and fractures in both legs.
“She was on her way to school like all her other friends; I don't know who to blame — I'm just glad she's alive,” said Malti.
But some families were not as lucky.
“Pradip was the only student left in his family after his two elder brothers dropped out of school due to the family's financial condition,” said Deep Narayan Tiwari (53), Pradip's uncle.
“Our father, Deomitra Tiwari is undergoing surgery as we speak; our mother, Durga Devi is by his side there. We don't have the heart to give her the news yet,” said Avinash (21), Pradip's eldest brother. Pradip was a class X student of Jain Senior Secondary School, Daryaganj.
The families of the other two students who lost their lives were unavailable for comment.
Police said the search for the vehicle's driver was on, "We have registered a case of criminal negligence against the driver as well as owner of the vehicle; both of whom are absconding at the moment," added Hooda.