A trip to Ladakh (Oct'17) - Tragedy of my life

Gaurav Tomar

Well-Known Member
~Long story but worth reading~

Hello Friends, after a short planning we decided to go for a flight trip to Ladakh. This post is quite lengthy and very different from others as we saw different colors of Ladakh not because of season but various reasons.
I am trying to post my experience as I felt; but many occasions and moments are impossible to explain, I still get goosebumps when I think about them. #Must_Read_Post

We all have seen few posts where people were not happy with the services received under Ladakh 951 but in my case it’s different. It’s worth mentioning that I have met HVK only twice; in 2016 & 2017 Himachal MDs and I have no words to explain the level of support I got from HVK himself and fellow HVK’ians.

#21st_Oct – We 3 (Me, wife and sister-in-law) took the flight to Leh in the morning, almost every booking was done by Kumar HV (Chief) himself without asking for any money even when Ladakh 951 has been discontinued. So as per our plan, day 1 was reserved to get acclimatized with high altitude and our Guest House was booked close to market so that we can just walk around in the evening to have a feel of being in Leh. Most of the hotels and GHs were closed due to off season by first half of Oct.
Chief (HVK) briefed all 3 of us a night before travel over a 45 mins call on what to do and what not to do however we did not follow what he suggested i.e. taking Diamox and keep drinking plenty of water to avoid AMS which impacted us badly on 2nd day. An evening walk around Leh market, there was a breeze in temperature close to zero. All of a sudden someone in market held my hand and said “Aise toh nahi jaane dunga” and it was Pushkar Rawat and family who had landed at Leh on same day.
During the market walk, I met our Taxi driver “Skarma Tsendoo” who was aligned with us for next 3 days to cover Nubra/Turtuk/Pangong/Local Leh.

#22nd_Oct – Checked out from GH around 8am and left towards Turtuk via Nubra Valley & Khardung La, we started feeling the impact of AMS from South Pullu while moving gradually towards high altitude. Reached Khardung La around 10:30. Me & my SIL rushed straight away to the Army camp to get some oxygen there, but my wife was fit enough to take care both of us there. 10 mins of oxygen was sufficient to take pictures at Khardung La and move ahead. We reached Khalsar around 12 pm, we 3 were not keeping well due to AMS so decided not to continue till Turtuk and landed to ‘Wachan Guest House’ in Hunder. Immediately after checking into GH, we visited to the nearest General Military Hospital, they gave us Diamox and some Electoral to come out from AMS effect. It was 4 pm and our day almost ended due to health issues.

#23rd_Oct – This was a fresh day for 3 of us, we were at height lower than Leh so didn’t feel any headache or nausea like other days. Plan was to reach Pangong today and stay overnight in Tangste but since we did not see anything in Hunder previous day, we checked with GH owner if he could arrange a double hump camel at our place and he said “Yes”, we happily spent some time with camel there before leaving towards sand dunes on the way. It was around 9 am when we left from Sand dunes towards Pangong to visit another beautiful place of Ladakh region. Another photo break was taken where ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) were parked around 09:20 am, this was the last photo break before a tragedy happened at the place called “T Morh” which is a straight road of that stretch where an oncoming local bus with full of passengers was visible from a distance of approximately 500 meters.

~ We were in our lane at the speed of around 80 kmph and a bus was coming in its wrong lane at around same speed, only God knows why none of the drivers wanted to slow down the car/bus.
~ In last few seconds, our driver decided to move to wrong lane (right lane) to avoid a collision and bus decided to move in its lane = #BLUNDER happened as seen in the pictures. Don’t know why our driver did not move the XUV on our left hand side which would have been more sensible and a safest bet.
~ Bus got toppled after hitting the left side of our XUV and few minor injuries were reported from Bus. I was stuck for some time in seat belt which got locked after the collision.
~ I was sitting the same side (with driver) which was hit by Bus and by God’s grace I was standing on my legs with minor injuries to take care of other 2 people of family – Thanks to #AIRBAGS and #SEAT_BELT else I would have collapsed on the spot for sure. Wife’s left thigh was seen broken from the moment I opened the door from her side and she fallen out from the car on me, SIL was not conscious for few minutes and was bleeding from head with a big cut on her head.
~ Due to frequent movement of Army in that region, couple of their trucks stopped quickly and Jawans were there to help us to reach the nearest hospital in Diskit (20 mins drive). They lifted 3 of us in a local Maruti 800 and #Padma (God bless this local chap – Maruti 800 owner) took us to Diskit hospital in 20 mins.
~ I collected everything I could find at accident spot i.e. 2 mobile phones, hand bags, camera etc. and worth mentioning that a local chap handed over 15k cash to me which were lying on the road. It was a panic situation for me to see both of them (my wife & SIL) repeating same questions in every 10 seconds, “wife was asking to Padma – Bhaiya paani hai? And he replied No” and “SIL was asking to me – ye kaise hua? And I replied Bus se”.
~ On the way to Diskit hospital, I borrowed Padma’s phone and called up Pushkar Rawat to let him know the situation and help us as he was in Leh that day & then I called up HVK to inform about the accident. He said don’t worry I am sending someone to the hospital – #Mr_David, owner of St. Himalaya guest house in Diskit was asked to reach hospital by chief for our help. Within 15 mins of our accident, Delhi NCR WAG got active and started arranging every possible help from their end in addition to Chief’s help.
~ After reaching hospital, 3 of us were taken for initial medication in different rooms for further tests to rule out the severity of injuries. Mr. David had reached hospital with a flask of milk for us, helping us in every possible way he could. I borrowed his phone to make few calls, called up Manav Deshwal sir (would call him Bhaiya now on as he was no less than an elder brother to me during this incident). He was already aware and had spoken to #Major_Kapil_Nehra to see us in hospital. Then I called up Subbu – calling him my best friend would be an under-statement, he was already worried about me and trying to speak to me. The moment I talked to him, he immediately said I am coming tomorrow morning don’t worry.
~ SIL got 9 stitches on her head and a fracture on her right hand, casting was done in Diskit hospital, there were pieces of glass in her hand which were royally ignored and casting was done over it. After X-rays and tests, Doctors advised us to move to SNM hospital in Leh for further treatment as my wife’s femur shaft was broken and femur neck has got couple fractures which required a surgery.
~ Police came and took my statement about how accident had happened, surprisingly they did not handover me the copy of FIR & MLC there.
~ Major Nehra arrived with his wife before we were getting shifted into the ambulance towards Leh, he spoke to the treating doctor and police about our case to ensure there is no legal trouble for us. Manav bhaiya was in touch with his contacts in Leh regarding local help and medical assistance, he gave me the contact of Colonel D. D. Pawar (One of our biggest support for next 2 days).
~ Chief was updated on the position, he asked me to connect with Tsewang Dorjay Lingste (another big name to remember for lifetime) in Leh for local support. Another friend Umang Singla being a doctor was trying to get hold of any report from me to take an advise from Doctors in Delhi but unfortunately I could not share anything due to no network.
~ At 2:15 pm we started from Diskit hospital in Ambulance, reached local police station and collected our 6 big bags of luggage with the help of Major Nehra. By this time situation had become more tensed as wife was not in a position to move a bit due to pain and a smallest jerk in the road was so painful for her. Next challenge for us to cross Khardung La which has very bad roads for 20 kms between North Pullu and South Pullu plus low oxygen level at height.
~ We wanted to see the snowfall on this trip which I could see after crossing North Pullu from the front seat of Ambulance while other 2 were lying on the stretcher. Luckily, it was not too heavy else we would have been stuck there for hours. God was kind enough here too.
~ Around 6:15 pm we crossed South Pullu post which mobile started working and I contacted Manav bhaiya, Chief and Umang to update them on the position. We reached SNM hospital by 6:45 pm where Dorjay bhaiya was already waiting for us, took the patients into emergency and shifted our luggage from Ambulance to Dorjay bhaiya’s car as all 3 were admitted in the hospital. In the meantime, Col. Pawar had reached and spoken to Doctor with some references. We went to get the X-ray done accompanied by Dorjay bhaiya post which SIL was shifted to ICU and wife & I into Ortho ward as none of the hospitals (General Hospital, Military Hospital and SNM Hospital) in Leh had working CT scan machine.
~ So, it was clear that a surgery needs to be done to insert a rod for wife and SIL was to be monitored due to head injury. Doctor was suspecting a fracture in my 12th rib but CT scan was required to rule out the exact problem. All my contacts suggested me to get the surgery done in Leh due to the capabilities of Ortho surgeons in SNM hospital and moving wife from there to anywhere else was extremely difficult for me. We were settled in hospital beds by 10 pm after which Col. Pawar and Dorjay bhaiya left for their homes. I requested Col. Pawar if he could send someone to stay with me as hospital had no lifts and moving from 3rd floor to ground to see both the patients was I so difficult for me due to pain in my ribs.
~ I cannot explain how we passed that night in hospital where wife was in severe pain on a bed next to me. We called family and did not tell them about what had happened, I made a story and stated that roads to Pangong was closed so we have returned to Leh and will roam around nearby place till 26th Oct before taking the return flight to Delhi.

24th Oct – Day started with the usual temperature of -4 outside, Doctor’s visit was much awaited to get an idea on next course of treatment from their end. Series of events took place on this day as well.

~ Dorjay bhaiya called around 8 am to tell me that he is preparing breakfast and tea for us, what a gesture he showed throughout our bad time there. He came with a lot of stuff for us to eat but we could hardly eat anything.
~ Everyone in that ward was curious to know what had happened with us and they helped us a lot within their own capabilities.
~ Subbu was supposed to fly to Leh but I asked him to wait until my discussion with doctor on their plan of treatment. By the time doctor visited us, I was discussing the matter with Chief and Manav Bhaiya to check other options like taking Air Ambulance or any other way to fly back to Delhi. Everyone suggested me to stay there and get the surgery done which I agreed as well.
~ As requested to Col. Pawar, #Jawan_Devi_Singh was there to help me to take care of both the patients. One more time – I have no words to say thanks to him for whatever he did for us.
~ In the meantime, Ajay Wali from NCR WAG sent me a contact number of his friend’s (DSP, Srinagar) father who is known to many people in SNM hospital. He said he will speak to Ortho there and in next few minutes he sent their relative to see us, that Aunty works in Admin department in SNM hospital. She took really good care of us till evening like our mother, I am so thankful to her.
~ Doctor T Dorje, Ortho Surgeon came for visit around 11:15 am and within 5 minutes he said “this cannot be operated here due to the complexity of injury”, he advised us to take her to Delhi for treatment but the biggest question in front of me at that moment was “HOW”? Doctor Dorje had put wife’s leg on traction for that day & gave me 4 choices for our evacuation: -
1. Air Ambulance – It was difficult for me to arrange 9 lac rupees there to go for this option.
2. Air Lift via Army – Doctor pushed for this option and wrote a letter for me to visit DC office in Leh in order to arrange this.
3. Air Lift via other Airlines with stretcher – processing required minimum 48 hours (as checked with Jet Airways).
4. By road – I found this very risky due to the painful condition of wife.
~ I visited DC office with the letter given by Doctor Dorje, met Additional Deputy Commissioner there and explained my situation to seek his help in arranging the Airlift via Army or Indian Air Force. He told me that they have to take certain approvals from Air Force which generally takes 2 to 3 days, not feasible to me at all. Then he suggested to take her back via Air Lift in regular flight on stretcher, I agreed with this option costing approx. 1.25 lacs in Jet Airways but again their process requires 48 hours which means no treatment for 2 more days in this painful situation. I was almost broken in front of ADC and couldn’t stop my tears coming out, he understood my situation and pain I was going through. He made few calls and connected with Air India Manager in Leh – Mr. Rana who was off duty that day but ADC insisted him to help me out. The letter given by Doctor Dorje was stamped with a note by ADC stating “Please help” handed over to me to discuss further with Mr. Rana at his home. ADC was kind enough to send me to Mr. Rana’s place in his official Scorpio with his driver.
~ It was around 1:30 pm when I met Mr. Rana, he advised me to collect some medical documents (Fit to Fly certificate along with other documents) and to book tickets costing as 72k for stretcher plus 2 normal tickets before 5 pm. No, It was not so simple due to the closed window of Air India office in Leh by 12:30 pm and tickets were to be booked from Air India counter in Delhi Safdarjung. I called up chief to let him know the situation, he suggested to go for this option as it was cheaper and less time taken for any other carrier. Dorjay bhaiya had an experience of working with airlines earlier so as per him this was the best option I had available at that point of time. I contacted Subbu to go to the Air India counter in Delhi Safdarjung to book the tickets, Steeve and Subbu both were very quick in moving from Gurgaon to Safdarjung.
~ At 4:30 pm (counter to be closed at 5 pm), Steeve told me that the guy at Air India counter (Laxman) is telling us to send the MEDA form filled by treating doctor which needs to be sent to their centralized e-mail ID for further review and approval. I rushed back from hospital to Mr. Rana’s house to let him talk to the guy at Air India counter in Delhi, tickets could only be issued once MEDA is submitted and approved but Why Mr. Rana did not tell me about it before? I knew that we cannot fly next day if tickets were not issued before 5 pm which was looking nearly impossible to me. Dorjay bhaiya dropped me to Leh market for taking the print out of MEDA form Subbu had sent over to my e-mail ID. Another issue added there, I was not able to open my yahoo id from where I had to download the form and print a copy. I asked Subbu to resend it to the internet café owner so that he can do the needful which luckily worked well.
~ Another HVK’ian Major Pramod S Dixit who was posted in Leh and got to know about our situation from chief. He came to see us in hospital with Mrs. Dixit and their daughter, it was our first meeting with the family however could feel the warmth of their feelings for us. Can you imagine you are meeting someone for the first time and they are offering you all the help and even offering “do you need cash?”. What a wonderful HVK family we have.
~ Next task for me to get the forms filled by Doctor who had already left for the day, I requested doctor to fill this 10 pages MEDA form for me so that I can at least send it to Air India as soon as possible. Doctor co-operated and asked me to meet him outside SNM hospital after 15 minutes where he filled the required fields in that form. I completed the form by 7 pm and it was ready to be scanned and e-mailed to Air India office for their review and approval. Sounds easy going – Naah, it was not!! A 10 seconds power cut had disconnected entire city from internet. By this time, I had lost all the hopes of flying back to Delhi next day but my gut feeling was pushing me to take every possible action to move forward.
~ I was sitting on hospital bed taking pictures of that form so that I can try to send it from mobile if possible but this option seemed to be failed as well. Colonel Pawar walked into the ward and asked me what happened, I explained him the situation and he calmly said, give me the copy of this form and I will try to send it via some Army network. Jawan Devi Singh got it copied and handed over to Col. Pawar before leaving for the day.
~ During all this time, there were continuous discussions happening on NCR WAG to rescue us from that situation. Devi bhaiya came back to give me his sleeping bag and a flask of hot drinking water.
~ Mrs. Dixit Divya Dixit came with a big box of dinner for all 3 of us however we couldn’t eat more than 5% of it. It was a tasty vegetarian and only meal we had since accident, sorry to Mrs. Dixit for wasting a lot of food. Another day was about to end with no hope to fly back next day, we were feeling so helpless in the situation.
~ At 22:12, I could see an e-mail sent to Air India (I was copied) with MEDA from a different e-mail ID. Army network was used to send that email for further processing, courtesy – Col D. D. Pawar. Next action was required from Air India officials to review the form in order to provide their approval post which tickets can be issued and stretcher can be fixed in the flight at Delhi itself. It seemed nearly impossible to fly back next day as a lot formalities were pending to be done for our evacuation. I forwarded that e-mail to Subbu, Chief and Vaibhav Jain as an update.
~ I was able to catch up the discussions on WhatsApp by this time as internet works okay at night. Another big help came from NCR WAG, Air India Captain Pankul Mathur asked for the MEDA form sent to Air India. Chief, Manav Bhaiya, Subbu, Umang Singla, Vaibhav Jain & Captain Pankul Mathur were connecting with each other to move things forward, Vaibhav shared the copy of email with Captain. ~ Captain started tying up things, he spoke to Mr. Rana in Leh at 23:00 regarding this matter. An update came from Captain at NCR WAG at 00:05 stating “Dr. Approval in progress, Engg, done for stretcher”. Most of the WAG members were awake and keeping an eye on the progress in addition of sending me their wishes and strength to fight back the situation.
~ Another update came from Captain at 00:18 stating “Medical Approved”, approval e-mail was forwarded to Mr. Rana as well. It was a good news to me though 100% work was not done but approval part was done at least.

25th Oct – A day started with very high hopes - Flight # AI 446 @ 11:00 departure time from Leh.
~ Luv Tandon started the conversation in NCR WAG at 07:00 asking for an update from Leh. I had a chat with Subbu to know what else is pending, he was supposed to leave towards Air India counter in Delhi Safdarjung at 07:30 to book the tickets. Ticket counter opening time was 09:30 and flight time is 11:00, there was no scope of delay in any of the pending actions today.
~ I had couple of tasks to complete at my end too, SIL has to be discharged and wife’s leg has to be packed by Dr. Dorje with the help of Knee Immobilizer to avoid jerks during lift and shift. I got to know that Dr. Dorje does not visit the patients on Wednesdays due to his OT commitments so I called him and requested to do the needful so that we can catch the flight on time, he agreed.
~ I started arranging the stuff needed to pack my wife’s leg, SIL discharge formalities were kicked off as well. During all these things, I completely forgot that I had to share the Ambulance details with Mr. Rana to issue the security passes to take ambulance till runway. I immediately rushed back to emergency for booking the Ambulance, Dr. Dorje helped me to do that as well.
~ At 08:30, Subbu was on his way from Manesar (his residence) to Air India office (Delhi Safdarjung) for tickets booking. Mr. Rana asked me to reach Airport by 09:45 to start the boarding process but I was curious to have a confirmation on ticket bookings. At 09:20, I spoke to Subbu and he said “Sorry bhai, traffic jam mein fas gaya near AIIMS”.. not a good news to me but I had full trust on God that we can’t lose the game at this point. Somehow, Subbu reached by 09:35 and started liaising with Air India people there and Captain Pankul for ticket bookings. I don’t know how Subbu and Captain managed to get the tickets issued as initially they (Air India) declined to issue the tickets.
~ At hospital, I was running here and there to get the SIL discharged and chasing Dr. Dorje to pack wife’s leg so that we can leave from hospital. Dorjay bhaiya was caught up with some personal work that day so couldn’t come by 10:00 and Devi bhaiya went to market in search of any photocopier machine to have some paper work ready. Dr. Dorje arrived at 09:40, we were already late by that time hence Dr. did the packing very quickly and we were good to go by 10:00. Col. Pawar and Devi bhaiya were there to help us in packing our stuff and load into their cars.
~ As our luggage was kept in Dorjay Bhaiya’s car, I asked him to reach airport directly but he was able to reach hospital by the time we started moving from there at 10:15. I received the message from Subbu by then stating “Tickets are issued” with PNR numbers. Mr. Rana was calling me to check where we have reached as we were already late to board the flight.
~ Finally, we reached Airport by 10:30 and Airport authority was able to speed up our check in and boarding process. Col. Pawar and Dorjay bhaiya saw us off at Airport and we flew back safely.
~ After landing at Delhi Airport, I called up family to inform about this incident and asked them to reach Max Saket. Subbu, Captain Pankul and Pankaj Jasrotia received us at the airport with the Ambulance to move towards Max Saket. Sanchit Gulati and our family were already waiting at Max for us to reach and later on few more HVK’ians visited to see us. Umang Singla had already spoken to the doctors about our case, we were in pain but happy to be back and see everyone around.

We could not see the Pangong Lake but met Dolma (belongs to Pangong) at hospital who was taking care of her Granny in SNM hospital, she took care of my wife at many instances and other Ladakhi people who were so caring and helpful.

All the checkups were done again in Max for 3 of us where I was found the fittest one with no fractures but some muscle injuries were there. Another minor fracture spotted in SIL’s CT scan in her skull with no displacement and luckily no impact on brain, she was kept under observation in Neuro wing of Max from where she got discharged on 27th Oct and currently in recovery phase.

Wife’s fracture was unusual as per doctors, 5 hours complicated surgery was successfully completed on 26th Oct. A rod has been placed due to multiple fractures in Femur shaft and Femur neck. She got discharged on 1st Nov, recovery period is 6 to 8 months.

We are glad to be a part of HVK family and thankful from the bottom of our heart to everyone who helped & prayed for our evacuation from such difficult situation. There are no words to express how grateful we are for all the help and support given to us by Chief and HVK’ians.

Word of Caution from me: -
1) Whenever you visit Leh and hire a taxi, Avoid travelling with this Driver named as “Skarma Tsendoo”. His non-sense decision while driving has put us into a big trouble, sharing his picture for everyone’s reference too.
2) Always write all the important contact numbers on a piece of paper as there are high chances of losing the contacts if your mobile phone is damaged in such accidents.

Many Thanks to #Wachan_Guest_House owner for arranging the copy of MLC and to Narender Kumar Gautam, Dk Pandit and Lobzang Zotpa for arranging the copy of FIR which was required to complete the insurance formalities post surgery.

Since I have got second life to share this incident, my humble request to all of you – Please wear seat belts no matter you are on front seats or rear ones. Life is precious and there is no fun taking important things for granted.

Happy and safe Travelling..

Sent from my Le X507 using Tapatalk
 

SJM1214

Well-Known Member
Read it all.hope everything is fine now...chief and HVK family..yes this is what HVK family is all about.. Ajay wali, master ji , dk pandit sir and other names are very familiar as after all I' am a very proud member of HVK and Ladakh return famiky.

I wish speedy recovery to your wife.. take care buddy...I wish very soon YOU guys will be able to see Pangong...

Take care....
 
Last edited:

dichkaun

Well-Known Member
Get well soon and take care.
Fortunate there were friends and family yo take care and help you when needed.
 

nadz11.ns

Super User
Life can be so unpredictable. Glad all three of you survived the incident and getting better. Praying to God for a speedy recovery.

Felt heppy to read how people came to help. Shows humanity isn't dead just yet.
 

Gaurav Dutt

ॐ नमः शिवाय
you went through hell, thank god people came for help and your effort says it all.
wish your family a speedy recovery. May god bless you. Take care!
 

Gaurav Chopra

zestbiker-if there is a SPIRIT,I ride it
Wishing you and your family speedy n full recovery.


Sent from my ASUS_Z00LD using Tapatalk
 

skysat2005

Super User
The entire incident was nothing short of a nightmare. Is "T morh" the stretch where there's a straight road in the valley taking one from one range of mountain to another?

The driver surely did a blunder of not slowing down when bus was in your lane, and then sticking to left lane instead of going wrong lane.

I wish a speedy recovery to you all, God bless.
Cheers...
 
Top