Recently, off-roader Aaron D’Souza, who manages a restaurant in Kodailbail here, completed dispatching food parcels. He then joined fellow off-roader Dishith Shetty, a timber trader, who, along with some other off-roaders visit Ullal, which was among the several places in the city hit by Cyclone Tauktae. They drove on the fisheries road in Ullal in the breezy condition to see whether there were anybody in distress and who needed assistance.
The next morning, they joined fellow off-riders — advocate Roshan Raj, Shashank, Kushith Kumar and banker Pradeep. They rode in three off-roading vehicles to beaches in Chitrapura, Hosabettu, Idya and the Light House-NITK beach road that were also affected by the cyclone. They helped a few fishermen in pulling boats to safe places and also assisted a few households in shifting household material. They also distributed food packets to needy families in these and other areas in the city.
Mr. D’Souza and Mr. Shetty are among the 21 members of “KA 19-20 United Offroaders” who have been involved in many rescue and relief operations in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. Around 50 off-road vehicles are involved in this task.
Mr. Pradeep said the off-roaders of Mangaluru and Udupi got to know each other during off-roading competitions. “We all came together to form an association two years ago and pooled in all our resources to help the needy,” he said.
Their first rescue operation was in 2018 when they drove through water-logged roads in Kuloor in the city to rescue members of three families who were stranded. “From then on, we have been actively involved in rescue and relief operations,” said Mr. Shetty who has been into off-roading for the last six years.
They have customised their four-wheelers to meet emergency situations. “These vehicles have winches to pull objects. Limb raiser is tied on the either side of the windshield that helps in cutting tree branches as they drive through green road stretches. These vehicles have powerful motors, lights and other accessories,” they said.
“Off-roading is all about skill in driving vehicles through inhospitable terrain. We are using our passion to help those in distress,” Mr. Raj said. The challenging task they were recently involved in was in February when they drove through inhospitable terrain to take firemen and other personnel to Bangarapalike Water Falls of Malavanthige village in Belthangady taluk and be part of an operation to search for a body of a youth who had fallen into the waters there.
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