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Mom asleep, Kerala baby falls off moving jeep

A Kerala toddler had a miraculous escape after she fell off her sleeping mother’s lap from a moving jeep
Nurses with Rohitha at the Tata High Range Hospital in Munnar

Our Special Correspondent   |   Bangalore   |   Published 09.09.19, 08:44 PM

A Kerala toddler had a miraculous escape after she fell off her sleeping mother’s lap from a moving jeep late on Sunday evening, her nocturnal brush with peril unfolding near a forest area where wild elephants roam and carnivores prowl for prey.

The kid’s family was on their way back from a visit to a temple in Tamil Nadu when Rohitha, all of 13 months old, slipped off the vehicle in Rajamala within the Munnar forest range in Idukki district.

The family realised the baby was missing only after reaching home, 50km away.

The infant was later reunited with her parents, Munnar police said.

Police sources said the baby’s parents and some relatives had gone to the Palani Murugan temple in Tamil Nadu as part of a ritual where an infant’s first growth of hair is offered to the deity Murugan (Karthikeya).

By the time the family had reached Rajamala — around 100km from the temple — on their way back, it was nearly 10pm. Rohitha’s mother, Sathyabhama, who was sitting at the outer edge of the rear seat of the open-back jeep, had fallen asleep, as had the others. Rohitha slipped off her lap, apparently around a bend.

A short distance from the spot where she fell off is a dense forest, home to wild elephants and carnivores such as foxes, wild dogs and leopards.

The infant, who was only in her undergarments, also weathered the 14 degrees Celsius in the Rajamala area.

Luckily for Rohitha, she had fallen off near a forest checkpoint. Footage from a security camera installed near the checkpoint shows the baby crawling towards the building, where three men at the post rush to her help.

“She crawled to the check post, perhaps seeing the light, at around 10pm,” Munnar wildlife warden R. Lakshmi told reporters on Monday. The baby, Lakshmi said, appears to have crawled more than 10 minutes from the point where she fell off the moving vehicle.

“She had some minor cuts on her forehead and there was some blood on her. Our officials manning the check post immediately informed the police who took the baby to a hospital for first aid,” Lakshmi added.

Doctors at the Tata High Range Hospital in Munnar examined Rohitha and treated her for the bruises.

The forest officials had at first thought the baby had been abandoned but realised what happened after going through the camera footage, which suggests Rohitha would have fallen off around 9.45pm.

When Rohitha’s family reached home, they realised that the infant, the youngest among three siblings, was not with them. Her father, Sabeesh, informed the local police who had by then received information about the forest department finding a baby in Rajamala. The parents then rushed to the jurisdictional police station in Munnar to collect the child. The baby was handed over to her parents after proper verifications, Munnar police said.

Sabeesh later told a Malayalam channel his wife fell asleep as she had taken some medicines for her facial paralysis.

“One side of her face is a bit paralysed since an infection she had. So she has been on medication. She was also tired and sleepy after the journey,” he said.

“That is why my wife didn’t realise that the baby had fallen off the vehicle.” 


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