A six-year-old girl sustained serious injuries to her lung when she was hit by her school bus after she disembarked from it on Tuesday evening.
Zahraa Shaikh, a Class 1 student of Podar International School in Santacruz, met with the accident at 7pm outside her residence in Vakola. According to eyewitnesses, the driver, Sanjay Das, 29, had earphones plugged in his ears and did not realise when the child got down from the bus.
Usually, a lady attendant helps students cross the road. But on Tuesday, attendant on duty reportedly got into an argument with the bus conductor and did not help Zahraa.
"Zahraa's older brother was in the bus telling the attendant to help her cross the road, but she was busy arguing with the conductor and did not pay any attention to the child," said an eyewitness, who requested anonymity.
"Also, the driver did not realise that the girl got out of the bus. He turned on the ignition and moved the vehicle ahead. The girl, who was walking in front of the bus, was hit. She fell to the ground and hit her head. The school bag she was carrying absorbed some of the impact and the child was saved from death," said the eyewitness.
Zahraa's mother, Juwairiah, claimed that the driver wasn't even aware that the girl was hurt. "He was too busy listening to music," she said, adding that three of her children go to the same school.
Zahraa was first taken to the Asha Parekh Hospital and then shifted to Nanavati Hospital. "She is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and she is under observation. The CT scan reports show that her lungs have been injured. We will have to wait and watch for her condition," said Dr Pankaj Shroff, who is treating Zahraa.
On Wednesday, the Vakola police arrested Das for rash driving and causing hurt by an act endangering life and personal safety of others. "He will be produced before a magistrate's court on Thursday," said Rajendra Pardesi, senior inspector, Vakola police station.
Following the accident, the school suspended Das and the conductor of the bus. "The school is cooperating with the authorities. In the interim, the school has issued a show-cause notice to the transporter and is initiating a retraining session with all bus employees," said Sanjeev Lele, the transport manager of the school.
"The school is in constant touch with the parents as well as the hospital. We hope and pray that our student rejoins the school at the earliest," added Lele.