Around 3.45pm on Monday, a multi-utility vehicle used as a school van (with a permit) fell into a pond on Kattithara Road near Maradu, Kerala.
The CCTV footage captured from a house in the vicinity showed that the driver was trying to take a curve when the right rear wheel of the van got stuck in the slush and then fell unto the water body.
According to a report in The Times of India, the van had eight students from the ‘Kidz World’ play school who were returning home.
Two children, including 4-year-olds, Vidhya Lakshmi and Adithyan S Nair, along with their ayah 35-year-old Latha Unni had drowned and were declared dead on arrival at PS Mission Hospital.
Even though no words could express the deepest hurt the event has caused, it is important to highlight the sacrifice that the humble ayah, Latha, made.
In the face of impending death, Latha decided to put the lives of the kids first. She managed to save the lives of five children by pushing them out of the vehicle and towards the residents who rushed to the spot to help the children.
In the process, she got stuck in the window and became unconscious. By the time she was pulled out and taken to the hospital, she was pronounced dead.
While the driver of the vehicle, Anilkumar, has been admitted to ICU, another student, 5-year-old Caroline, is on ventilator support at Medical Trust Hospital. The five kids who were rescued in time are in a stable condition. They were put up in a house in the vicinity until their parents were informed.
Latha’s lifeless body was later moved to her home on Vikram Sarabhai Road, Maradu. A mother of twin daughters, Aishwarya and Lakshmi, who study in Grade 8, her husband Unni KL is a humble daily wage labourer.
She had worked as an ayah with the playschool, ‘Kidz World’ for over five years.
It would perhaps have been easy for Latha to choose her own life over the kids in the van, but a mother’s heart couldn’t watch someone else’s kids die a painful death at such tender ages.
Even if it meant that in the process of saving them, her own children would be left orphaned.
A special mention goes out to the timely intervention of residents who made the rescue possible before the police and fire authorities could reach the spot.
Benny P, a resident jumped into the pond to save the children, told the publication, “I jumped to save the children with few others and soon realised that the kids were stuck in the backseat. We had to break the glass window to rescue five children. It was not easy to save the children as the pond was full of silt and water hyacinths.”
We hope Latha’s family receives adequate emotional and financial support to overcome the loss. And while we know that loss can sometimes outweigh the deceased person’s sacrifice, let us celebrate the life Latha lived. In the true sense, she will always be remembered as the hero, who saved the lives of five kids, giving them a second shot at life.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)