Udayavni Special

1980 Thirthahalli bus accident: Survivor recalls trauma of 40-year-old accident that killed 21

Team Udayavani, May 21, 2020, 11:59 AM IST

T Ramachandra Shastri, a retired employee of Manipal Academy of Banking shares a snippet of his life – an accident he experienced on May 21, 1980, exactly 40 years ago.

Here’s what he has to say:

“Exactly forty years ago, this day, my wife Vatsala and I were travelling on a Gajanana bus from Shankarnarayana to Shimoga on the way to Bengaluru. At about 8 pm, there was complete darkness on that secluded road outside Thirthahalli town.

After having coffee at the bus stand restaurant, the driver was very eager to ready to drive to his house on the way to Shimoga. In that eagerness, he did not notice the sharp turn at the entrance of the Kushavati River bridge. He speeded and hit straight the parapet. The whole bus fell into the river.

At the end of May, the river bed was dry and filled with stones. Twenty-one passengers had died on the spot.

My father-in-law Sitaram Bhatt luckily lived in a nearby village. He came and took both of us to Manipal hospital. Besides many fractures, I had a kidney injury. My wife had her list of serious injuries. The doctors told me that they needed at least 48 hours to inform whether we will survive.

My employer, Canara Bank, helped me a lot. Blood was organized by employees of a local Syndicate Bank.

That midnight, Manipal hospital provided an exemplary service. Because of all the help and kindness, we both recovered.

I completed my most enjoyable service at Canara Bank. After that, I joined the Manipal group and worked until retirement. I express my utmost gratitude to them.

Although my name has appeared in publications hundreds of times due to my articles, this one time, my name appeared on the front page of a daily newspaper.

All those who helped us back then are spread all over the world. I met a doctor from the hospital in Macon, USA. The banks and their employees who helped me – Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank have merged. The old bridge across the Kushavati has been replaced by a new bridge without that dangerous bend.

Everything now is only a memory.”


T Ramachandra Shastri, Gajanana bus, Shankarnarayana, Shimoga, Bus accident, Tirthahalli, Kushavati River bridge, Canara Bank, Syndicate Bank, Testimony

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