Ardi Rizki Yozho had just turned 17 and thought that his dreams were coming true. He loved trains and was proud to be the only student in his entire school to have secured an internship with state railway operator Kereta Api.
But today, Ardi lies in a hospital bed, his right leg amputated below the knee.
A week after turning 17 last month, he was thrown out of a moving freight train by a couple of cellphone thieves. His leg was crushed and beyond saving.
As fate would have it, Ardi had boarded the freight train even though he had bought a ticket for the passenger train to Bekasi, where he lives and studies.
“For some reason, I decided to board the freight train because it had arrived earlier than the KRL [electric train] heading to Bekasi,” Ardi said from his bed at Sumber Waras Hospital in West Jakarta.
A student of an automotive vocational senior high school in Bekasi, Ardi explained that he had been interning at KA for just a week in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, when the incident occurred on Jan. 25.
“One of my dreams was to become a train mechanic. To enhance my knowledge of trains, I had even joined a community of rail lovers here — the Komunitas Edan Sepur Indonesia,” he said, adding that he had also suffered serious injuries to his head as well as his left ankle.
Nevertheless, Ardi said he had accepted his fate and, following his recovery, hoped that KA would allow him to complete his internship. “Although I have lost my right leg, I still want to work as a mechanic at KA and I want to finish my internship at KA Tanah Abang,” he said.
“This has been my dream job since I was a little boy. But I don’t know whether or not I can really do it at this point.”
Ardi said that on the day of the incident, he ran into three other people hitching a ride aboard the freight train. “I was listening to music on my cellphone,” he said. “One of them asked me for a lighter. I lent it to him.
“The other two passengers suddenly approached me and told me to hand over my cellphone. I just ignored them, but they didn’t like that.”
Ardi said the next thing he knew he was being punched and kicked to the point that he blacked out. He doesn’t remember what happened after that.
“When I came around, I found that I was in the hospital. And that my leg was gone,” he said.
Zuhro Arsad, Ardi’s 56-year-old mother, has been at her son’s bedside since he was brought to the hospital by residents who found him unconscious near the rail line in Pasar Ikan, North Jakarta. The residents also contacted Zuhro.
“No police helped my son at that point. It was local residents who took the initiative to bring my injured son to a nearby hospital in North Jakarta with the help of a truck driver,” Zuhro said. “They had taken him to Atma Jaya Hospital in Pluit. It was the nearest one.”
She said that doctors had immediately operated on Ardi’s head injuries and tried to save his leg, but the next day the leg had to be amputated.
She said she was terrified about telling her son about his leg. “The doctor told me it was better that Ardi find out himself as it would be better for him psychologically. So, I didn’t say a word until he found out by himself,” she said.
Zuhro, who, like Ardi’s father, is a retiree, said that for now all the hospital bills were being covered by state health insurance, or Askes, which covers treatment only in state-run hospitals. However, there was still medication that they needed to pay for out of their own pockets.
“While Ardi was in the emergency room, we spent more than Rp 50 million [$5,500]. Although some of the expenses are paid for by Askes, we still need to pay some of the medication expenses by ourselves, which costs about Rp 1 million a day,” Zuhro said. “We will make an effort to pay all the medical expenses because all we want is to see Ardi get better. We will also find a way to send him to university.”
KA spokesman Mateta Rizalulhaq said he could not yet confirm the incident, but explained that if Ardi had been on the freight train illegally, state-owned insurance company Jasa Raharja would not cover his medical bills.
“If Ardi was a KRL passenger, then he could make a claim to Jasa Raharja,” Mateta said. “However, if he was an illegal passenger [on the freight train], then it will be difficult to make an insurance claim.”
Meanwhile, Egief Del Haris, a member of Komunitas Edan Sepur Indonesia, said he regretted Ardi’s decision to hitch a ride on the freight train, although he understood that passenger trains to Bekasi were not very regular.
“Actually, we really want to help Ardi in this case but, unfortunately, he didn’t take a KRL even though he bought the ticket,” he said, adding that the group, which has more than 2,000 members across the country, actively discouraged riding illegally on freight trains.
“We just hope that a similar accident will not happen to anyone else,” he said.
“It is just not right to take a freight train.”