One of the three Chapecoense players to survive the disastrous plane crash that took the lives of 71 fellow passengers has said that he was persuaded to swap seats during the flight. Team full-back Alan Ruschel was giving his first press conference since the crash on November 28th, and revealed that the club director asked him to move and sit next to his friend, and fellow survivor, Jackson Follman.
“Cadu Gaucho asked me to sit further forward and let the journalists sit together at the back,” Ruschel recalled. “I didn’t want to but then I saw Follman and he insisted I sit beside him. Only God can explain why I survived the accident. He grabbed me and gave me a second chance.”
— Alexandre Lozetti (@Ale_Lozetti) December 16, 2016
It turned out that the area he moved to came out best in the crash. Ruschel picked up just minor injuries, whilst his teammate Follman has had part of his leg amputated. Four others also survived, including fellow player Neto, a journalist and 2 flight crew members.
Ruschel then went on to explain what he knew about the accident, saying “I don’t remember anything about the accident. 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 has come under a huge amount of scrutiny for his involvement in the disaster, and has been accused of taking off without the required amount of fuel. The airline itself is also under investigation, and have had their license to fly suspended by authorities.
Ruschel has vowed to not let this stop his career though, indicating his will to return to playing football as soon as possible. “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.” He also pledged to visit each family of the deceased passengers, adding “As a lesson, this tragedy teaches that you have to keep living. Take advantage of some things and do good for others.”
One of the deceased players, goalkeeper Danilo, was posthumously awarded the Brazil Player of the Year award. Danilo had been the hero of the semi-final, keeping a clean sheet after making a heroic save in the last seconds to put his side through to the final on away goals.