Bus driver turns Pune's nightmare

Bus smashes into 40 vehicles, killing 8 and injuring 30

It was black Wednesday in Pune, as a Maharashtra State Transport driver hijacked a bus, and turned it into a death-on-wheels as he sped through the congested roads of Pune, crashing into vehicles, killing eight people and injuring 30.

People crowd near damaged vehicles which were hit by a bus, allegedly stolen and driven by Santosh Mane, an employee of the state transport corporation, in Pune on Wednesday. The bus lurched through the city's streets hitting one vehicle after another and running into pedestrians for half an hour. PTI When police finally managed to stop Santosh Maruti Mane by firing at him, he had left a trail of blood and death, and scores of mangled vehicles, according to Pune police. As he drove on the wrong side of crowded roads at breakneck speed, Mane smashed into 40 vehicles including cars and two-wheelers. 

The accident being termed as a ‘classic case of road rage and mental claustrophobic town-planning,’ left Pune residents, police, transport officials stunned and bewildered.

Eye-witnesses and local media recounting the half-hour bloodbath that began at 8:15 am, said: “As the bus careened through the roads, smashed vehicles fell on either side of the roads amid the eerie sounds of metal being crunched, and bleeding people flew through the air, landing on the hard tar roads, and shrieks and screams rent the air.”

The policemen recovered from their shock and flashed alerts to the headquarters, and managed to stop Mane (41) by firing at him and the tyres of the marauding bus.

According to officials attached to Swargate Bus Depot, Mane, hailing from Solapur in south western Maharashtra, returned to Pune from Gangapur, on Tuesday night.

Though he was scheduled to start work at 10.15 am, he reportedly requested his superiors to let him start earlier. On being refused, Mane spotted a bus from Satara in western Maharashtra, arriving at the depot.

Preliminary reports indicate minutes after driver Santosh Hendre alighted from bus (MH-14-BT-1532) Mane got into the vehicle and started the bus with a common ignition key.

The officials at the depot were startled when Mane revved the vehicle. They watched in horror as Mane banged into a stationary bus and mowed down three persons – a passenger at the gate, a rickshaw puller and a fruit-seller, before speeding off on the main road.

“We ran behind the bus but he just sped off,” said depot traffic controller Ajit Limaye who alerted the police and called for medical ambulances. According to the Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Satyapal Singh, “Preliminary information reveals that he was driving in a haphazard manner. There was no logical pattern in his movement. He was hitting everything that was coming in his way.”

Tracing the movement of the bus later, Singh said that after taking a wrong entry, Mane proceeded on congested roads. “Our men finally managed to intercept him at Dandekar Bridge where he dashed another vehicle nearly seven km away from the depot.” Pune police commissioner Meeran Borwankar later in the day told media persons that medical and psychiatric report on Mane was yet to come.

“As of now he is not under suspension. We will frame charges only after the report comes in. “We are questioning Vijay Gulve, the bus conductor who had accompanied Mane on Gangapur trip.

We are trying to ascertain whether he confided him on anything. We have also asked Mane's colleagues to provide us with his behavioural patterns,” Singh said.

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