Man who saved over 60 lives, dies screaming for help

Man who saved over 60 lives, dies screaming for help

(L) Jineesh Jerone during flood relief work.(Image source: Facebok-Johny Chekkitta)

Jineesh Jerone, a young fisherman from the coastal hamlet of Poonthura near Thiruvananthapuram, died on Saturday after a road accident in Kollankodu in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu.

The 23-year-old man was riding a motorbike when a lorry hit him. His friends say he was left unattended for about 30 minutes on the road, losing a lot of blood, before an ambulance arrived from Parassala to shift him to a hospital.

About a month ago, when Kerala was battered by floods, Jineesh and his friends were rescuing people marooned in floodwater in Chengannur, in Alappuzha district.

Four days after Jineesh’s death, his friends in the village continue to share, with pride, stories on how he helped people in distress.

Johny Chekkitta, a friend, says now it’s time to help his family – unemployed parents and two younger brothers in college.

At 17, Jineesh quit studies and started working to help his brothers through school.

“Their house was destroyed, two years ago, in coastal erosion and they’ve been living in a rented home. He also ran into a debt of Rs two lakh after a failed attempt to shift abroad for work,” Johny told DH on Wednesday.

Jineesh, Johny and five others formed Coastal Warriors, a group which set out to Chengannur on August 16 with their country boat.

Johny and John Mathew, another member of the group, initiated the operation which brought hundreds to safety.

“After the accident, about 200 people turned up at the hospital offering to donate blood – B-negative, a rare group.

At the funeral, hundreds turned up; there were people who saw him in Chengannur. Leena Susan Mathew, an NRI whose aged parents we rescued, was also there,” Johny said.

Senior Congress leader Sashi Tharoor and  Adithya Varma, member of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore, were among those who attended his funeral on Sunday.

Leena has initiated a crowdfunding drive on social media for Jineesh’s family where contributors have raised about $ 3,000 till Wednesday.

“We also want to open a sports or cultural club in his memory. Jineesh was among the first of us who said no to the remuneration announced by the state government for flood heroes. But what he did out there has to be recognised; it has to be honoured and made known to the future generations,” Johny said.

In Chengannur, he was a quiet doer who braved tough conditions, Jineesh’s friends remembered. Among the Coastal Warriors, he was also the youngest.