Bhandup resident Sanjeev Agarwal saw his daughter off into her school bus on Monday morning and then drove behind the bus as he does every day, to get on to the Eastern Express Highway from where he goes to Bandra-Kurla Complex, while the bus takes his daughter to Airoli-based Euro school. Agarwal was, therefore, right at the spot when a BEST bus, speeding from the opposite direction, crashed head-on with his daughter’s school bus.
The accident left 17 people, including 10 kindergarten children, injured.
“I was driving a few metres behind the bus when suddenly it stopped and children started getting down right in the middle of the road. My wife was also in the car and we rushed to see what had happened and saw that there has been an accident,” he said.
Agarwal and his wife rushed their daughter and three to four other children to the nearby Fortis hospital and called up several parents. “The children had injuries on their foreheads and chins,” he said.
The couple does not blame the school bus driver. “I know the driver. He drives sensibly. The accident was not his fault,” Agarwal said.
Divya Tiwari, another parent, said she panicked when she heard of the accident. “My son Gayarth had to get three stitches on his head. It was lucky that the children escaped with minor injuries. Thankfully, the police and hospital authorities responded quickly,” Tiwari said.
Auto driver B Pawar, who witnessed the accident, said: “The children were screaming and crying. The police stopped an empty bus of another school, which was passing by, and the injured were taken to hospital in it.”
Ten students, three teachers — identified as Nikita Sawant, Vidhatri Bhavesh and Smita Gupta — the school bus driver and the cleaner were injured, as were the BEST driver and one BEST passenger, identified as Priya Uttal, 26.
Manisha Raokhande, inspector of Navghar police station, said: “The students and teachers were taken to Fortis hospital, while the bus staff was taken to Heritage hospital in Navi Mumbai.”
Six students and one teacher have been discharged, while two teachers and four students are under observation.
“Prima facie, the probe shows that the fault lies with the BEST driver, who was driving rashly,” said Raokhande.
“The children had minor injuries, but we admitted everyone. The two teachers are in the ICU,” said Dr S Narayani of Fortis hospital. “A few students and staff have sustained injuries. As part of our safety and security protocol, all of them were rushed to the nearby Fortis hospital,” said Natasha Mehta, principal, EuroSchools.