Truck driver Majid Khan won’t remember the first 1,600km of his journey from Ajmer to Calcutta, he will always be haunted by the unfinished last 6km.
Majid, 25, was at the wheel of a truck loaded with marble slabs from a quarry in Rajasthan and headed for a warehouse in Topsia, off the Bypass, early on Sunday. Co-driver Khalid Mohammad, 30, was asleep in his bunk inside the cabin. Helper Sheikh Saifuddin, 21, was seated to the left of Majid.
Truck No. RJ02 GA-8416 had just made its way up the incline of the Ultadanga flyover and taken the curve to the left when Majid felt the ground beneath the wheels shake, almost as if he were “in a swing”.
The rest is a blur: of the truck hitting a guard rail and plunging 22 feet below along with an entire slab connecting two pillars of the flyover.
Drivers Majid and Khalid, residents of Alwar district of Rajasthan, are being treated for multiple injuries at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital. Helper Saifuddin is in Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals with a broken jaw that might require surgery.
Majid recounted to Metro the trio’s brush with death at dawn.
Our truck was barely past the bend when I felt the tremor. I couldn’t believe it: the entire bridge was shaking. It felt like I was in a cradle and someone was rocking it.
I could feel my truck tilting towards the right as the bridge continued shaking. I lost control and the vehicle hit the wall. Everything happened so fast and before we knew it, the truck had slipped off the bridge. Aisa laga tha jaise hum jhoole mein jhool rahein thhe aur phir jab oopar pahunche, tab wahan se gir gaye (It felt as if I was on a swing and on reaching the top, I was thrown off).
I have been driving a truck for the last five years and had never been in an accident. So nothing could have prepared me for this.
We had started from Ajmer on February 25 with a consignment of marble that we were to deliver at a godown in Topsia. Along the way, we routinely stopped at dhabas for food or to take a nap.
Last night, I replaced Khalid at the wheel and he retired to his bunk to catch some sleep. It had been a smooth ride. I was driving at a speed of not more than 30 to 35kmph because the truck was fully loaded with heavy marble slabs.
From VIP Road, I decided to take the flyover to reach the Bypass. I slowed down near the bend and crossed it without any problem but everything went haywire after that. When the flyover started shaking, I couldn’t control the steering wheel any longer. The truck veered to the right, hit the guard rail and slipped off the bridge. All in a flash.
For a moment, it felt like I was floating in thin air. I reached for the door but couldn’t open it. Then I felt a thud and was thrown off my seat. I can’t express the fear and helplessness that coursed through my mind in that split second before I lost consciousness.
I regained consciousness while I was being taken to hospital. My entire body was in pain. I asked those who were accompanying me about my two colleagues. I later found Khalid next to me in the hospital ward and was told that Saifuddin had been taken to a private hospital.
I was so close to death that I still can’t believe I am talking.