A Nikhil Travels luxury bus travelling from Satara to Mumbai collided into a Maruti Swift and Toyota Innova parked on the side of the road near Shedung in Raigad district.
The accident occurred in Shivkar village, 11 kms from Panvel at 4.30 am when the bus hit them from behind. Within moments, all three vehicles plunged down 40 feet.
The reason why the two cars were stationary on the road? Maruti Swift suffered a burst tyre and request help from the Innova. The two vehicles were waiting at the side of the road, and drivers were in the process of changing the tyre. The luxury bus driver Iqbal Babalal Sheikh (66) of Satara failed to notice the parked cars and rammed headlong into them.
Passengers were rescued by locals and while most victims were from Satara, there were also passengers from Pune, Navi Mumbai and Thane. All injured were admitted into MGM, Gandhi and Panacea hospitals in Panvel. 17 persons died which included 10 women, 6 men and a child. Some passengers were admitted with serious injuries while most others were admitted for superficial wounds, fractures and other injuries.
While prima facie, the accident seems to have occurred as Sheikh lost control over the bus while maneuvering around the two parked vehicles on the expressway, the police have registered a case against him for negligent driving and one under Motor Vehicle Act for dangerous driving.
Over 14,500 accidents have taken place across the 94 km stretch of Mumbai Pune Expressway from 2002 to 2016 claiming 1,400 lives to date. Over speeding, lack of lane discipline unsafe vehicle conditions and lack of awareness are among the prime reasons for such calamities.