Ghatkopar billboard collapse claims 17th victim | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Ghatkopar billboard collapse claims 17th victim

May 23, 2024 07:50 AM IST

The May 13 Ghatkopar billboard collapse claimed its 17th victim on Sunday when after spending six days in hospital, first at Rajawadi Hospital and then KEM, Raju Sonawane, 52, an autorickshaw driver, died on 11pm on Sunday at KEM Hospital

Mumbai: The May 13 Ghatkopar billboard collapse claimed its 17th victim on Sunday. After spending six days in hospital, first at Rajawadi Hospital and then KEM, Raju Sonawane, 52, an autorickshaw driver, died on 11pm on Sunday at KEM Hospital. He is survived by his wife and two sons. He succumbed to lung injuries sustained in the crash.

Raju Sonawane, the 17th victim of the Ghatkopar hoarding collapse
Raju Sonawane, the 17th victim of the Ghatkopar hoarding collapse

“Raju was two rickshaws ahead of me at the petrol pump at Police Ground in Ghatkopar, waiting to fill CNG, without me knowing,” said Chandrakant Sonawane, his friend, also present at the accident site. “I could see the hoarding as it started falling, which made me jump out of my rickshaw for safety. It was only after the hoarding fell on us, and I heard Raju’s screams for help, that I found out he was there.”

Chandrakant, who was hurt less, helped himself and Raju out of the wreckage. “He was moaning in pain, as he was still in his rickshaw which had taken the brunt of the billboard’s fall. I told him we would be okay and we crawled out from underneath the billboard, till people came and helped us.”

Chandrakant had injuries to his head and chest, and Raju to his stomach. As both crawled through the vehicle rubble, glass pricked and struck their hands and legs.

The two were taken in an ambulance together to Rajawadi Hospital. “He was talking to me and told me to call his son and inform him about the incident and call him to the hospital. He was scared and I tried to calm him,” said Chandrakant.

At the hospital, both were admitted into the ICU. Chandrakant spent four days in it. “I went back to Rajawadi on Tuesday as my chest still hurt,” he said. “The doctors informed me it would pass in a month or two.”

Raju was kept at Rajawadi till last Wednesday, May 15, then transferred to KEM Hospital, Parel.

“I am still in shock,” said Chandrakant, coming from Raju’s cremation in Ghatkopar on Wednesday. Both had been friends for over 15 years, when they were neighbours in Ramabai Nagar, Ghatkopar.

Chandrakant remembered him as kind, soft-spoken and considerate – a great friend. They kept tabs on each other.

“We both drove rickshaws. Around a year ago, I moved to Badlapur, and around six months ago, Raju did the same. He had bought a new house on loan there. We reconnected,” he continued. The duo continued to drive their rickshaws in Ghatkopar, parking their rickshaws and travelling every day by train.

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