A pilgrimage to Velankanni in September ended in tragedy for Maria Don, a Mumbai-based ONGC employee, who died on the return trip to Chennai.

Alleging negligence by the tour operators, her family has now lodged a complaint with the city police commissioner.

Maria had left Mumbai on September 3 by train and reached Chennai the next day. On the same day she, along with her nephew, boarded a bus run by Therai Travels in Koyambedu, bound for Velankanni.

After her visit to the shrine in Velankanni, she waited for the bus to take her back to Chennai at the designated pick-up point. But when it did not arrive for over an hour, she called her husband N.K.K. Don in Raigad and told him it was raining heavily.

Don called a friend who had made the travel arrangements. When the friend contacted the bus driver he was advised that Maria and her nephew should come to another pick-up point about one km away. Maria and her nephew were drenched by the time they managed to board the bus around 12.30 a.m.

A little while later Maria fainted. When Maria’s daughter tried calling on her mobile phone, it was answered by a man, Roger, who said that her mother was sick and was lying on the floor of the bus.

“We constantly kept in touch with the bus driver and urged him to take her to a hospital as she was on medication for hypertension and we knew she needed medical attention. But the tour operator told us she was sleeping. When the bus arrived the next morning, we took her to a hospital. At the Government Kilpauk Hospital, doctors told us she had been dead for six hours,” Don said.

“Despite our repeated pleas to the driver to take her to a hospital, this was not done. It was the tour operator's negligence that led to my wife's death,” Don said in his complaint.

Mumbai native died while on bus from Velankanni to Chennai in Sept.

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