Locals from the Filter Pada slums in Aarey colony were just about to start a cricket match when they heard a deafening noise. It was an ill-fated helicopter that had crashed. The residents rushed to the spot in time to pull out four people alive.
The only person who did not survive the crash was the pilot, Prafulla Mishra, 53. All the other three have suffered burn injuries and fractures. While Ritesh Modi, 35, and his wife Vrinda, 32, were critically injured, Sanjiv Shankar (24), an engineer, has multiple fractures.
The group of seven rescuers was led by Sultan Shaikh, 30.
“We ran about 200 m to reach the site. We saw that one of them (Shankar) was still conscious. He was asking us to move away because the helicopter may blast. But we took the risk and pulled all of them out,” Shaikh told HT while adding that the copter did catch fire later.
“Others alerted the fire brigade. But we could not wait for them to arrive as all the survivors had suffered a lot of burn injuries and the woman was crying in pain. Luckily, there was a shanty nearby and we got sacks from there to lift them. Then we ran nearly half-a-kilometer with the sacks to reach a police vehicle. There was no ambulance. They were taken to the hospital in police vehicles,” he added.
Tabrez Khan, another youth in the group, said, “We were hurrying because the helicopter was on fire. We caught their hands and pulled them out.”
According to a doctor from the Seven Hills hospital, Shankar was conscious and told them that the helicopter had undergone a mechanical failure. The pilot was trying to land it but when he saw children playing on the ground he had initially thought of landing it on, he took it ahead to find another spot. Before he could find it, the helicopter had lowered too much.
A fire brigade official said the helicopter hit the trees and so the impact of hitting the ground had been minimised.
Speaking to the press, Seven Hills Hospital’s vice-president Dr LP Sadhotra, said, “One of them (Shankar) is conscious. He is disoriented because of the shock and has suffered multiple fractures. The pilot (Prafulla) is dead. One (Ritesh) has suffered burn injuries and a head injury and his condition is serious. The woman has suffered 50 to 60% burn injuries and is in a critical condition.”