It was a day which will remain etched in the mind of Prasad, the man who was behind the wheels when the Metropolitan Transport Corporation Limited (MTC) bus (17 M) fell from the ramp on the Gemini flyover. Nearly a fortnight after the accident, he says he in fact saved the lives of passengers and that he was not on the phone when the accident occured.
Speaking to The Hindu on the phone, Prasad sounded confident when he said “I was not speaking on the phone when the accident took place,” he said. His version is that, when he was taking a turn on the ramp, the seat moved and he lost his balance. “The nut and bolt became loose. But I kept a hold on the steering wheel and made sure my legs were on the brake.”
Once the bus hit the railing, he ensured that the speed was under control. “The vehicle was descending slowly and it was towards the end that it fell on its right side. It did not topple upside down,” Prasad said. He said his legs were caught in the gear wire and hot oil fell on his leg.
“An auto driver was helping the passengers to get out. I took my cell phone and managed to jump out. I looked for the conductor and found that he was already out,” he said.
According to Prasad, he and the conductor decided to approach the nearest police station and submit a report. “By then, people had gathered and were shouting. The fire engine also reached immediately,” he said.
Prasad says the bus was damaged only after the wrecker vehicles were used to pull the bus. “They are small and old. It is not possible to lift a huge bus. I was watching the operation on television at the police station. It was during this time that the bus was damaged,” said Prasad.
But how are his colleagues and family reacting after he was involved in such an accident?
“My colleagues said that I saved a lot of lives by driving slowly on the slope and ensuring the vehicle did not topple. Similar is the reaction from the family,” he said.
Prasad has an experience of 10 years in driving MTC buses. “The MTC administration has given us their findings on the accident. They have claimed that Prasad drove in a rash and negligent manner. The bus cannot be driven fast on Gemini flyover due to the traffic,” said K. Natarajan, general secretary of MTC Employees Progressive Union