Train selfie claims athlete

A 14-year-old promising athlete from the state capital, returning home after taking part in a national championship in Guwahati, fell to his death from a running train this morning apparently while taking a selfie.

By A.S.R.P. Mukesh in Ranchi
  • Published 15.09.16
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Dwarika Baitha is inconsolable outside RPF thana after learning about his 14-year-old son Vivek (below in a selfie) who died falling off a running Kamakhya Express in Dhanbad rail division, 200km from Ranchi, on Wednesday. Picture by Gautam Dey

Ranchi, Sept. 14: A 14-year-old promising athlete from the state capital, returning home after taking part in a national championship in Guwahati, fell to his death from a running train this morning apparently while taking a selfie.

Preliminary RPF investigations into the accident, which took place 4km from Kumardhubi station in Dhanbad railway division, 200km from here, suggest Vivek Kumar Baitha was hit by a utility pole along the tracks when he leaned out of a door on board the Kamakhya Express for an adventurous click.

Vivek, a resident of Harihar Singh Road in Morabadi and a Class IX student of Army Public School in Dipatoli, was one of the 65 state sportspersons in the train.

Recalling the tragedy around 9.15am, another athlete said all he heard and saw were a loud thud and blood being sprayed by the wind on passengers seated near windows. "Our coach, Prabhat Ranjan Tiwari, pulled the chain. Others got down and retrieved Vivek's mangled body. We informed the RPF thana in Dhanbad," he said.

Dhanbad RPF inspector B.N. Mishra said a few eyewitnesses told railway police that the boy got hit by the pole while trying to capture a selfie. "He was standing at the door, leaning out. That is how he got hit, according to some passengers. Most of his team mates are in shock and not forthcoming with their account of the accident," Mishra said.

Kamakhya Express usually has 11 security personnel on board when it departs from Ranchi. The same drill is followed when it leaves from other junction stations. However, the deployment changes between stations and railway divisions.

Son of an army canteen clerk and eldest among two brothers, Vivek was part of a state contingent of 89, including two coaches and two managers, at the 28th East Zone National Athletics Championship. Jharkhand ranked third at the meet, bagging 18 gold, 12 silver and eight bronze.

Although Vivek didn't win a medal at the meet, senior state coach Vinod Kumar Singh remembered him as a promising sportsperson who joined the athletics discipline only six months ago.

"The boy stood tall at 195cm. He had a knack for volleyball, but we put him in the athletics squad. He represented the state in high jump and hurdle race. He won silver at his first district meet a few months ago and was selected for the national meet," Singh said.

Jharkhand Athletics Association president Madhu Kant Pathak and other officials have rushed to Dhanbad, along with Vivek's father Dwarika Baitha and other relatives. Baitha was too traumatised to speak.

Pathak said the state team for Guwahati had 85 players, out of which 20 left for Jamshedpur in another train while the others boarded the Kamakhya Express for Ranchi and Dhanbad. Coach Prabhat Ranjan and manager Vinita Kumari were travelling with Vivek.

On whether there were lapses on part of the officials, Pathak said they couldn't be squarely blamed. "It is impossible to keep track of every youngster every time. Some will go to the washroom, some will exchange berths to be with friends and so on and so forth. What happened was unfortunate and we are deeply saddened," the athletics boss said, adding that they would hold a special meeting tomorrow to decide on the financial help to be extended to the bereaved family.

Pathak also maintained that it was high time the government launched insurance policy for every player. "They play for the state and all they ask is life cover," he said.