|Vasudev and wife Suryalata
April 1: Coping with the pain of a fractured hand and the trauma of a car accident, young Aishwarya’s thoughts were with her parents.
“Our address' Why don’t you ask mom or papa'” the Class VII student groaned in her hospital bed.
Aishwarya, 12, Ananya, 13, and Aditya, 10, haven’t been told yet that the mountain accident that interrupted their summer holiday trip has left them orphaned.
Vasudev Kotra, assistant general manager with Durgapur Steel Plant, had left for Sikkim with his family on Thursday, looking to finish the trip before the tourist season peaked. The family was travelling to Darjeeling from Pelling yesterday afternoon when Kotra lost control of his Maruti Versa at Nagdara, 80 km from Gangtok.
The 300-foot plunge to the Rangit’s banks killed the 44-year-old and his mother-in-law Thangirala on the spot. Kotra’s wife Suryalata, also 44 and a gynaecologist with the steel plant hospital, died on the way to a hospital in south Sikkim’s Namchi, whispering her address to the policemen accompanying her almost with her last breath.
The other three occupants of the Versa — the couple’s son and two daughters — are at Siliguri’s Anandaloke nursing home, where the steel plant has sent Dr Ashish Chatterjee, a colleague of Suryalata’s, to take care of them.
“Anu’s (Ananya’s) injury is very serious, she has fractured her hip and needs a neurosurgeon immediately. Aishwarya has broken her left hand and Aditya his left collar bone.
The children will be shifted to Calcutta’s Apollo Hospital tomorrow,” Dr Chatterjee said.
The Kotras are from Andhra Pradesh but have been working in DSP for the past 16 years. Vasudev’s brother Harry and brother-in-law R.N. Rao have arrived in Siliguri from Hyderabad to be with the children and claim the bodies.
“Our father was driving. Suddenly, the car went off the road. There was a deafening crash and I blacked out,” Ananya, a Class IX student, said feebly.
Aditya, who studies in Class V in the same school as his sisters — Hem Sheela Model School, Durgapur — was “drowsy” and could not remember what happened.
Witnesses said the driver was trying to park when the car went out of control and fell off the edge. “We are yet to find out the cause of the accident,” deputy inspector-general of police Akshay Sachdeva said.
Kotra’s colleagues said he worked in the electrical distribution department and was liked for his politeness and sincerity.