Sushma Shivankar, 30, a resident of Ghansoli, had gone to her hometown of Prabhshwar in Satara with her husband and two children about a month ago.
On Saturday night, they boarded the ill-fated luxury bus to return to Navi Mumbai as the children’s schools were set to reopen after the summer vacation. Seventeen people died and 47 others were injured when the bus crashed into two stationary cars on Mumbai-Pune Expressway around 4.30am on Sunday.
“All of us were asleep when the bus met with an accident near Panvel. We woke to the sound our fellow passengers screaming as they saw the bus going off the highway. The window panes and windshield shattered as it fell into the deep ditch. Other passengers fell on us from the impact,” Sushma told Hindustan Times.
“My children were crying. I had no idea was had happened. After the bus came to a halt, I broke a window pane and got out. It was completely dark. I managed to rescue my children from the bus but my husband remained stuck inside,” she added. It was only after she was admitted to hospital that Sushma realized she had suffered injuries to her right leg and back. Her nine-year-old daughter had suffered a severe head injury.
“I have been told that my husband has been taken to Panvel rural hospital but I have no idea how he is doing now,” Sushma said.Another passenger, 18-year-old Omkar Manguli from Nalasopara, was returning home from Satara with two friends. “It was raining heavily when we crossed Pune around 1am. The driver was speeding and we even talked about whether he would hit someone.”
“After the bus fell into the ditch, I got out of it through a small hole in the windshield before helped others get out. Several victims remained stuck inside until the fire brigade arrived. Thus, despite arriving on the scene quickly, ambulances could not take many of the victims to hospital during the golden hour,” he added.
While Omkar escaped unhurt, one of his friends suffered head injuries while the other injured his right hand.
Avinash Karande, a professor with a renowned college in Mumbai, was also travelling on bus with his family. Like many others, they too had taken their children to Satara for the summer vacation. Avinash died in the accident, while his wife and children were injured. “His wife and children are still recuperating at MGM hospital. They are now out of danger,” said Rajesh Patil, a relative.
Siddhesh Kadam, 18, another passenger who suffered head injuries, said the toll would have been higher had there been water in the ditch. “Thankfully it was dry and the injured could be rescued relatively easily,” he said.
Sheetal Teli Ugle, district collector of Raigad, said, “The victims are being given all possible medical help. We will propose some compensation for the victims’ families from the CM’s relief fund.”