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Mumbai helicopter crash: Man who booked ill-fated joyride dies

mumbai Updated: Dec 14, 2016 00:07 IST

The accident occurred at the Filter Pada area of Aarey Colony, a green belt in suburban Goregaon.(HT File Photo)

Ritesh Modi, 35, who was critically injured along with his wife Vrinda after a helicopter ride he had booked to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary ended in a crash on Sunday, died at 9.10pm on Tuesday in the intensive cardiac care unit (ICCU) of Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri (East).

Modi is the second person to have been killed by the crash; pilot Prafulla Mishra, 53, died instantly. The two survivors are Vrinda, 34, who is in a critical condition with burns and multiple fractures; and Sanjiv Shankar, 24, an engineer who also suffered burns and multiple fractures but is stable. Doctors said he will be discharged soon. The helicopter took off from Juhu but crashed minutes later, apparently owing to mechanical failure, in a forest near Filterpada in Aarey Colony.

Meanwhile, the Aarey sub-police station is awaiting a report from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the civil aviation regulator, to determine if anyone can be held responsible for the crash.

Responding to a question about who, if anyone, was responsible for the crash, in which the pilot was killed and three passengers were injured, senior police inspector Vijay Oulkar said the police are awaiting the DGCA report and that no action will be taken until they receive it.

“The DGCA is the competent authority. We will base our action on their report. We have registered an accidental death report and have visited the spot. The fire brigade will also help us in our probe,” said Oulkar.

It is not clear how long it will take the DGCA to complete its report. The police in such cases have the power to book the accused either under Section 304-A (causing death by negligence) or 304-2 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

Sultan Shaikh, 30, who was among five or six people playing cricket near the crash of the site who helped rescued the survivors, told HT, “We ran about 200 metres to reach the site and saw that one of them (Shankar) was conscious. He told us to move back, saying the whole helicopter could explode. But we took the risk and pulled all of them out.”

“Others alerted the fire brigade, but we couldn’t have waited until they came as all four had suffered burns and the woman was crying in pain. Luckily there was a shanty nearby and we got sacks from there to lift them. We ran for nearly half a kilometre to get a police vehicle. There was no ambulance. They were taken to the hospital in police vehicles,” Shaikh added.

According to a doctor at Seven Hills Hospital, Shankar said that the helicopter suffered a mechanical failure. The pilot tried to land it on an open ground but saw children playing there and flew it further to find another spot. Before he could find one, Shankar said, the helicopter began to lose altitude quickly. A firefighter who was at the spot said the chopper hit the trees and thus minimised the impact of the crash.

IRCTC suspends air rides, to refund booking amount

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), an Indian Railway subsidiary, has suspended its joyride service in Mumbai, said an IRCTC spokesperson

It is not clear till when the joyride operation will remain suspended, but it is likely to resume soon, said an official.

The spokesperson said the IRCTC has also cancelled all bookings and will refund the amount to the people

IRCTC used to charge Rs 2,955 to Rs 4,750, depending upon the flying time and the number of people

For this, IRCTC had tied up with a private company, Aman Aviation, helicopter of which crashed at Aarey Colony

In January 2016, the IRCTC had relaunched the joyride operation before resuming it in September.


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