Police on Thursday pulled out the bodies of three advertising professionals from Nira river on the Pune-Banglore highway, a day after divers had recovered the body of their fourth colleague at the same spot.
The bodies were recovered from the immersed Hyundai i20 car, in which all four had started their journey last Friday and were reported missing after a few hours into their trip
The three bodies were retrieved after NDRF personnel pulled the vehicle out from the river.
Pranav Lele, Chintan Buch, Sahil Quereshi and Shrutika Chandawani, all in their late 20s, were on a road trip for Gokarna Mahabaleshwar in Karnataka over the Diwali weekend. However, within a few hours after they embarked on their journey, family-members lost contacts with the youngsters following which they were reported to be mysteriously missing.
It was previously suspected that the group had been abducted. After recovery of the car and all the four bodies, police confirmed it was a mishap resulting after the driver lost control of the car, which fell in the river from the unbarricaded gap between the two bridges built over Nira on the highway.
The police had initially launched a massive search operation concentrating their efforts in and around national highway close to Shirwal taluka. On Wednesday, police had recovered body of Buch from the river.
According to NDRF divers, the three executives couldn’t come out of the car after it fell into the river as they had worn seat belts unlike Buch who did not.
A Ahmed, NDRF commandant said, “After yesterday’s rescue operation, we began searching for the bodies early morning with a team of 45 persons. Initially we found the car, which was stinking due to decomposition of the bodies lying inside it.”
Lele was a partner at the Pune-based Paradigm Plus advertisement firm, where Buch, Quereshi and Chandawani worked. Late on Friday evening, they had left for Gokarna Mahabaleshwar. On the way, they meant to drop Chandawani at her hometown Kolhapur.
The four professionals who went missing: (from left to right) Chintan Buch (body recovered), Pranav Lele, Sahil Qureshi and Shrutika Chandawani. (HT Photo)
A senior police official said empty bottles of liquor were found at the residence of one of the youngsters where they had gathered, suggesting that they had consumed alcohol prior to their journey.
The relative of the victims, however, alleged that confusing signboards on the highway led to the mishap.
Parvez Ahmed, Quereshi’s uncle said: “The mishap occurred due to the wrong signboards of road diversion put out on the highway. The signboard confuses people driving during the dark.”
Buch’s family members said that his marriage was fixed next month for which he had decided to visit Vadodara for shopping.