A rescue worker has revealed Colombian crash survivor Alan Ruschel’s first words as it emerged a 10-year-old boy helped save the footballer.
The footballer was being stretchered from the scene of the disaster, near Medellin in Colombia, when he asked volunteer Santiago Campuzano ‘My family, my friends… where are they?’
Ruschel, 27, was one of six people who survived the crash which killed 71 and wiped out most of the Brazilian team Chapecoense days away from their Copa Sudamerica final.
This morning it was revealed that a 10-year-old boy was the first on the scene and helped to direct rescuers to the crash site.
The child is said to have told emergency crews where the plane could be found amid dismal weather conditions. Defender Ruschel was then rushed to hospital.
According to Sport.es, a local resident called Sergio Marulanda said: ‘When we parked, a child came and told us where the wounded were located.
‘A policeman told me: “You’re the first to arrive, put the child in the truck and go to collect the wounded.”‘
He then drove his all-terrain vehicle to help with the rescue bid.
Harrowing pictures have emerged of Ruschel being stretchered to a nearby ambulance ahead of his transfer to hospital where he is being treated for his injuries.
He is in intensive care but in stable condition, Dr. Ana Maria Gonzalez, director of another clinic attending them, said.
Ruschel’s wife Moa has since spoken of her relief after her husband survived writing on Instagram: ‘Thank God Alan is in the hospital. We are praying for everyone who wasn’t saved.’
Fellow Chapecoense defender Helio Neto, 31, as well as goalkeeper Jackson Follmann, 24, were found alive at the crash site. Journalist Rafael Valmorbida, who worked for Chapeco’s West Capital Radio and had 20 years of experience in the industry, also survived.
Neto and Valmorbida were in ‘very delicate but stable’ condition in intensive care, Dr. Guillermo Molina, head of a clinic treating them, said.
Neto suffered trauma to his head, thorax and lungs, as well as open wounds to his knees.
The two members of the flight staff, Erwin Tumiri and Ximena Suarez, were out of danger and under observation, she said.
Follmann had his right leg amputated, according to Chapecoense spokesman Gelson Dalla Costa.
The team’s goalkeeper Marcos Danilo Padilha, 31, died on the way to hospital after the crash.
He and Ruschel had earlier posed for selfies during the journey from Brazil with Ruschel, 27, telling fans: ‘We’re coming Colombia.
Ruschel had uploaded a video on board the aircraft as the team left from Sao Paulo for the biggest game in the club’s history.
‘Of Alan Ruschel we don’t have a definitive diagnosis yet,’ said the director of the San Juan de Dios Hospital yesterday
‘They are waiting on some lab results to decide how to continue. He is stable.’
Team members had posed together for a picture in Bolivia ahead of take-off as they were travelling to Colombia for the first leg of the Copa Sudamerica final, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League.
But their journey came to a devastating end when the jet smashed into a hill and broke in two in remote mountains at about 10.15pm.
The Avro RJ85 plane, which was carrying nine crew, suffered power failures while flying through the Antioquia Department on its way from Bolivia.
The pilot is believed to have circled around before crash landing in a desperate attempt to lose fuel and avoid an explosion on impact.
At the crash scene near the town of La Union in wooded highlands outside Medellin, dozens of bodies were laid out and covered with sheets around the wreckage.
The crash was Colombia’s worst air disaster in two decades.
The pilots and cabin crew on board the plane that crashed were all Bolivian while most of the passengers were Brazilian and about 40 were part of the Chapecoense delegation.
There are reports the team had to change their flight at short notice and board the doomed aircraft after Brazilian aviation authorities prevented them from taking a charter plane direct from Sao Paulo to Medellin.
Chapecoense goalkeeper Danilo was initially found alive in the mangled remains of the jet.
The 31-year-old was rushed for treatment after the crash, only to die from his injuries a short time later.
Globo Esporte, a Brazilian sports website, reported that one of the dead players, Thiaguinho, found out he was to be a father for the first time just one week before the crash.
Those killed included 21 journalists travelling with the team for the historic match.
The team, from the small city of Chapeco, was in the middle of a fairy tale season.
It joined Brazil’s first division in 2014 for the first time since the 1970s and made it last week to the Copa Sudamericana finals – the equivalent of the UEFA Europa League tournament – after defeating Argentina’s San Lorenzo.
Officials opened the club’s stadium at Chapeco in the state of Santa Caterina in Brazil’s south to console the grieving families and fans.
‘We’re all here at the stadium to help the people connected,’ said the team’s vice president Ivan Tozzo.
‘It hasn’t really sunk in yet. We have to trust in God. Our team must carry on,’ he added.
Chapecoense is based in Chapeco, a city of about 200,000 that is known for its poultry industry and is about 800 miles south of Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, has declared three days of national mourning following the crash.