Seat swap may have saved plane crash footballer


Chapecoense full back Alan Ruschel was sitting towards the back of the plane when club director Cadu Gaucho asked him to move.

He was one of only six survivors on the plane, which crashed into mountains in Colombia last month, killing 71 people.

The team was heading to play in the Copa Sudamericana final, the biggest game in the team’s history.

“Cadu Gaucho asked me to sit further forward and let the journalists sit together at the back,” Ruschel told reporters at a news conference.

Colombia plane crash

Video:Brazilian team plane had run out of fuel

“I didn’t want to but then I saw (Jackson) Follman and he insisted that I sit beside him,” he added.

“Only God can explain why I survived the accident.

“He grabbed me and gave me a second chance.”

Goalkeeper Follman, one of Ruschel’s best friends on the team, also survived, but had to have part of his leg amputated.

He was transferred on Saturday via air ambulance from Sao Paulo to a hospital in the club’s home city in southern Brazil.

A vigil for those who died aboard the fatal flight carrying the Chapecoense team.

Video:Nightmare endings for Chapecoense stories

“I don’t remember anything about the accident,” Ruschel said at the Arena Conda, the club’s stadium in Chapeco.

“When they told me what happened it seemed like a dream, a nightmare. Little by little they’ve been telling me what happened and I’m starting to understand.

“I try not to speak of the accident, I avoid the news, but from the little I’ve seen I think it was greed on the pilot’s part.”

The pilot of the Bolivian-run LAMIA jet has been accused of taking off without enough fuel to complete the journey.

Bolivian authorities suspended the airline’s operating licence and replaced the management of its aviation authority to ensure the investigation into the crash is transparent.

Fans of Chapecoense football club mourn

Video:Chapecoense fans mourn the loss of their heroes

Ruschel has promised to return to Colombia and treat his doctors there to one of the barbecue meals famous in southern Brazil.

He has also pledged to visit the families of his compatriots who died, before returning to Chapeco and continuing with the physiotherapy that will be necessary to get fit again.

“As a lesson, this tragedy teaches that you have to keeping living,” he said.

“Take advantage of some things and do good for others.

“When I got here today I had the sensation that I was coming home. I promise to give lots more happiness to this team. With a lot of effort and hard work I am going to be back playing again soon.”


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