The city bade a memorable and overwhelming farewell to Wing Commander Darryl Castelino, 38, on Sunday. He was buried with full state honours at Our Lady of Egypt Church cemetery in Kalina.
Castelino was the pilot of the ill-fated Mi-17 V5 helicopter that crashed in Uttarakhand last Tuesday during a rescue operation. Castelino was among the 20 officers who died in the crash.
The farewell organised by the Indian Air Force (IAF) began from Nanavati hospital, Vile Parle, from where Castelino’s body was brought to his residence in a motorcade at Diamond Park society, Vakola around 1pm.
A crowd of around 300 people waited outside his building to catch a glimpse of his farewell as family, friends and colleagues received his coffin wrapped in the Indian tri-colour. The IAF gave a guard of honour to Castelino as his coffin was placed in a shamiana near his building.
Castelino’s mother Leena, his sisters Sheryl and Muriel and wife Jyothi flanked the coffin as relatives sang the hymn ‘Come by here’.
In the largely public farewell, Castelino’s mother shared a private moment with her deceased son as she sat by his coffin and hugged it for a brief moment. Carrying bouquets, relatives, friends and well-wishers of the Castelino family queued up to pay respects to the man who saved 300 lives.
Bollywood film director Mahesh Bhatt attended the mourning to pay his last respects. Others included Vinod Tawde, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) leader of the Opposition in the upper house and BJP’s Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar.
As the coffin made its last journey from Castelino’s home to St Anthony’s Church at Vakola, a large crowd followed the bedecked cortege. The cortege was escorted to the church by a Naval band and as it approached the church, the crowd swelled to over 1,000.
Castelino’s burial at Kalina church was attended by more than 1,500 that included more than 300 personnel from the IAF Mumbai unit.
He was laid to rest with a 21-gun salute. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, air vicemarshal Anil Khosla (Mumbai unit chief), BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte and police commissioner Satyapal Singh attended the burial.