BANGALORE: At a time when politicians are a vilified lot, a 61-year-old Karnataka ministerbecame a hero on Tuesday morning by jumping into a cold lake along with his guards and saving a family of six trapped in a sinking car. Primary and secondary education minister Kimmane Ratnakar was travelling in his official Innova to Bangalore from his native town of Thirthahalli when he spotted the sinking car and ordered his convoy to stop.
Around 7am, the minister’s MUV was near Beguvalli, 20km from Thirthahallli, when a white Maruti Swift car overtook it. About 15 minutes later, as Kimmane’s car approached theBeguvalli lake, the minister noticed the same Swift sinking in the lake.
Kimmane, his gunman Halswamy, driver Chandrashekar and escort vehicle driver Krishnamurthy jumped into the water. The four men swam to the sinking car, whose trapped occupants were flailing their hands from the windows.
Chandrashekar opened a rear door and pulled out three children and with the help of his men and brought them safely to the shore. The four then returned to the car, which had by now settled on shallow lake bed, and rescued the other three occupants, including a 55-year-old woman. The man in the driver’s seat by then was unconscious.
A doctor called by the minister treated Uday Kumar, 40; his wife Suma, 35; his mother Geetha, 55; sons aged 14 and 8; and a three-year-old nephew of Uday. The minister called his friends and arranged breakfast and medicines for them. He also gave Uday his clothes before resuming his journey to Bangalore.
Uday, a native of Bhadravathi and owner of an electrical goods shop, was driving back from Karkala, his wife’s native place. Speaking to TOI from Bhadravathi, Uday said it was a “rebirth” for his family.
“I don’t know how to thank minister Kimmane Ratnakar. It’s because of his efforts that we are alive. Or else, all the six of us would have drowned,” he said.
“I had started at 4am from Karkala. On reaching the tank bund, the steering locked, and the car plunged into the lake.” Water began gushing in through an open window. “I made best efforts to open the door and rescue others. But I panicked and fell unconscious,” Uday told TOI.
“I realized what had happened and remembered that there were children inside. Taking both drivers and the gunman with me, I waded into the water and saved them,” Ratnakar told TOI. “I must congratulate my three companions, who swam swiftly and made a big difference to the lives of the six people in the car.”