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A Fun School Trip Ends in Tragedy: Friends Remember Kerala Bus Accident Victims

Nine people, including 5 students and a teacher of Baselios Vidyanikethan in Mulamthuruthy, died in the accident.

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On the evening of 5 October, the halls of Baselios Vidyanikethan in Mulamthuruthy of Kerala's Ernakulam district echoed with the laughter of students who were about to hop on to a bus and leave for their much-awaited school trip to Ooty, Tamil Nadu. Less than 24 hours later, on Thursday, 6 October, thousands gathered on the same school grounds to pay their respects to five students and a teacher, who lost their lives in a tragic accident at Vadakkencherry in Palakkad.

A total of nine people died after the private tourist bus that 42 students and five teachers of the school were travelling in collided with a Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus, late-night on Wednesday, 5 October. Three passengers of the KSRTC bus were also among those who lost their lives.

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When The Quint first arrived at Baselios Vidyanikethan, where Emmanuel CS (17), Anjana Ajith (17), Diya Rajesh (15), Cris Winterborn Thomas (15), and Elna Jose (15) studied, we saw a group of teachers gathered inside a tiny staff room, unable to comprehend the loss of their beloved students and colleague, Vishnu VK (33).

"I was very close to the students. I saw their WhatsApp status yesterday while they were on the trip; they looked so happy. After the accident, one of the surviving students, Abel, called me in the morning, letting me know that he and others were safe," said 29-year-old Amal, who used to work as the PE teacher at the school until about a year ago.

Nine people, including 5 students and a teacher of Baselios Vidyanikethan in Mulamthuruthy, died in the accident.

Baselios Vidyanikethan, Mulamthuruthy. 

(Photo: Meenakshy Sasikumar)

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'The Driver Was Speeding for Sure'

Recounting the horror, Blessen, a Class 12 student who escaped with minor injuries, told The Quint, "I was at the back with my friends, watching the movie played on the bus. We didn't know what was happening. Suddenly, we fell on the floor. The roof of the bus had come off and that's how we managed to escape."

Earlier on Thursday, 6 October, Kerala Transport Minister Antony Raju confirmed that the speed of the private bus and the driver's rash driving caused the mishap. The driver, Jomon, absconded after the incident but has now been arrested by Kollam Police.

"The driver was speeding for sure. Vishnu sir went and told him to slow down, too. I don't know how things changed so quickly. We were all so happy and excited yesterday," Blessen added.

In fact, PE teacher Vishnu, colleagues said, ended up on the bus by chance.

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'Vishnu Was Not Supposed To Go on the Trip'

"Vishnu was from a poor family, I was the one who gave him this job. He had no financial backing. But he was very good with the kids. He was also very good at cricket and football. He was so dedicated and sincere. He knew when to be strict and when to be friendly with the kids, and they were so fond of him," Father Jacob, a former member of the management who has worked with the school for years, recounted.

Fr Jacob said that Vishnu was never supposed to go on the trip. "He was sent at the last minute because he's very good with handling children. We're confident when he's there. It's a huge loss. He is survived by his wife and a one-year-old daughter," he added.

"Vishnu sir and I spoke only last Thursday about organising a cricket tournament next month. He was like a mentor to me," said Amal, his former colleague.

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'They Had a Bright Future Ahead of Them'

Emmanuel and Anjana, both Class 12 students, were classmates of Blessen. "Emmanuel was the funniest person in the class. When he's around, everything is better. And Anjana, she was so smart; she was a very good friend of mine. I'll miss them both," Blessen said.

Anjana's mother, Asha, is a teacher at the school and was also on the trip. The teachers said that Asha, who was injured in the incident, saw her daughter fall off the bus when it turned turtle.

Nine people, including 5 students and a teacher of Baselios Vidyanikethan in Mulamthuruthy, died in the accident.

A flexi remembering the five students and teacher who died in the mishap.

(Photo: Meenakshy Sasikumar)

Speaking to The Quint, Father Jacob said, "The children we've lost, they were so bright. They had a bright future ahead of them. The loss is unfathomable."

He added that the school had hired the bus operator previously as well. "But I made sure I always went with them. And nothing like this has ever happened in the history of this school. The driver was definitely speeding. This would not have happened otherwise. One person's mistake has cost lives, families."

Mariyamkutty, a retired government school teacher whose grandchildren study in the same school, said, "I know these children, I see them every day when I drop my grandchildren off at the school. Often, there's a tussle between students and management when it's time for an excursion. But usually, the kids have their way. But how could they have known that it would end in such a tragedy?"

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What Happened?

The accident occurred at about 11:30 pm on Wednesday, 5 October, when the private bus carrying the students and teachers, in an attempt to overtake a car, hit the rear end of the KSRTC bus. According to PTI, the KSRTC bus carried 81 passengers and was on its way from Kottarakkara in Kerala to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.

The bodies of the five students and the teacher were brought to the school on Thursday afternoon for teachers, students, and the public to pay their respects. Elected representatives were also present at the school.

"I didn't even know them, but they could have been my children. I wanted to see them one last time, but the crowd is too much. So many people want to see them one last time," said 44-year-old Sarah, a woman who lives in the area.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Students   Accident   Kerala 

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