At least 19 passengers on board a Mahim-bound BEST bus suffered injuries, while another 30-odd had a miraculous escape, when the bus overturned on the Vile Parle flyover after it was rammed by a dump truck on Saturday.
Such was the impact of the collision that the front wheel of the bus had come off, its windscreens smashed, and several seats had been knocked out. The accident led to a massive traffic jam on the Western Express Highway, but one of the passengers managed to get the truck driver arrested after he flagged down a passing car and caught up with the accused at the Kherwadi junction.
The accident occurred around 12.15 pm, when bus no. C-71 (Mira Road to Mahim) hit the road divider and overturned. The bus driver, Sahebrao Chikale, 58, who suffered multiple injuries, told the BEST officials that the dump truck appeared out of nowhere and rammed the left portion of his bus, forcing him to steer to his right.
Several passengers, including Malad-based businessman Tasadduk Husein, managed to jump out from the emergency exits even as the dump truck driver, identified as Kisan Kamble, 23, pressed on the accelerator and sped off.
Husein, 49, suffered injuries to limbs and was waiting for help when he saw a motorist slowing down. “I was furious at the truck driver,” Husein said, “The only thing on my mind was to somehow get the maniac arrested. I requested the motorist to give chase and he agreed.” The motorist turned out to be an ex-corporator from Malad, Baldev Singh Manku, who managed to intercept the truck near the Kherwadi junction after a 10-minute chase.
Kamble was handed over to the police officers at the junction, following which Husein along with the BEST officials submitted a complaint at Vile Parle Police Station. Kamble was booked under sections 279 (rash and negligent driving endangering human life) and 338 (causing grievous hurt). “He was remorseless, and didn’t even realise he could have killed many people. What would have happened had the bus crashed on other vehicles? It is only a miracle that we are alive,” Husein said.
Terming the accident as “deliberate”, Husein said it was a case of road rage, as the bus driver hadn’t allowed him to overtake earlier. “It all started at Jogeshwari where the truck driver first tried to overtake the bus,” he said, “From where I was seated, I could clearly see what he was up to. The moment he got a chance, he rammed into the bus.”
While most of the passengers escaped with bruises, Shashikant Kamble, 39, suffered a fractured foot. He said he was “thankful” to be alive. “It could have been worse,” he said, “When the bus overturned, I thought I won’t survive. This is indeed a second life for me.”
Dahisar resident Tanveer Ahmed, 25, said he will “think twice” about using public transport after this incident. “I normally ride my motorbike to work, and rarely use public transport. I still bristle when I look back and realise I could have been killed,” he said.
Even though the passengers gave a clean chit to the driver, the BEST officials said there will be an inquiry. A senior BEST official said, “Prima facie, the driver was not at fault and in fact, tried his best to avoid the collision, but there will be an inquiry as per our guidelines.”
While the bus was removed from the flyover, the traffic had to be diverted, resulting in serpentine queues of vehicles on the Western Express Highway. A traffic official said, “It took us around three hours to remove the bus, following which the traffic was regularised around 3 pm.”