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Nikunj Patel


Australian NRI and Newly-Wedded Wife died in the Goa bus-tanker-truck collision


A honeymoon ended in tragedy for a couple headed for US
MUMBAI, Jan 17, 2008

It was a short holiday to one of the most beautiful holiday destinations - Goa. But it ended in tragedy for a newly wed couple.

Nikunj Patel, a non-resident Indian (NRI) IT professional from Australia, had married Jeevangna Patel Jan 10.

The Patel clan from the US, Paris and Australia had arrived for Nikunj-Jeevangna's marriage at Mota Vaghchipa, a prosperous village in Pardi taluka, 25 km from Valsad.

Thereafter, the family and the newly married couple had chartered a luxury bus for a brief holiday to Goa before returning to their respective adopted countries Jan 24, a weeping Pradeep Patel, one of the bereaved relatives, told IANS over phone from Mota Vaghchipa on Thursday.

The couple, who planned to settle in the US after marriage, was among the total of 13 victims, including nine expatriate Indians, two Gujaratis and two drivers in the Goa bus-tanker-truck collision, on Wednesday.

The other deceased are: Neelam Patel, Anand Patel, Dhruv Patel (minor, US citizen), Nidhi Patel (minor, US citizen), Falguni Patel, Mamta Patel (all from Florida, US), Nilesh Patel (Paris) and Nikunj Patel (Australia). Mamta Patel and Shivam Patel were from Mota Vaghchippa village accompanying their visiting relatives.

"Neelam and Anand Patel were engaged in running a franchisee of the well-known Subway fast food eatery in Florida. Nilesh Patel was engaged in running a family business in Paris," Pradeep Patel said.

He added that the relatives of the victims are expected to reach with the bodies late on Thursday and the last rites shall be conducted in the village itself.

Eleven other members of the Patel clan sustained injuries, mainly burn injuries and fractures. They are recuperating in the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) at Bambolim, 15 kms away from the Maharashtra-Goa border.

GMCH dean Dr. VN Jindal told here that the autopsy was conducted on 11 victims' bodies. Incidentally, the 1200-bed GMCH is the only major one on the 1000 km National Highway-17 between Mumbai-Manipal (Karnataka) equipped to handle big tragedies.

Jindal asserted that all the injured are now out of danger but since they have suffered fractures, may require varying period of hospitalization.

The Goa police on Thursday registered a case against the driver of the tanker carrying acid that was involved in the gruesome accident. The tanker bears Maharashtra registration No. MH-04 CA-1907.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic), Goa GP Mhapne said that efforts are on to contact the tanker owners in Mumbai for further investigations.

The tragic accident, involving three large, fast-moving vehicles, occurred in the Western Ghats outside Pernem, around 12 km from the Maharashtra-Goa border on Wednesday around 1.20 p.m. It left a total 13 dead and 11 injured.