Seat swap may have saved Chapecoense player’s life

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

CHAPECO: A Brazil­ian foot­baller who sur­vived the air crash that killed most of his team in Colom­bia last month changed seats at the last minute af­ter a team mate en­cour­aged him to sit be­side him, he said yes­ter­day.

Chapecoense full back Alan Ruschel was sit­ting near the back of the plane when club di­rec­tor Cadu Gau­cho asked him to move on the jour­ney to play in the Copa Su­damer­i­cana fi­nal. “Cadu Gau­cho asked me to sit fur­ther for­ward and let the jour­nal­ists sit to­gether at the back,” Ruschel told re­porters at his first news con­fer­ence since the Nov. 28 ac­ci­dent.

“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.”

Ruschel, 27, was one of only six sur­vivors on the plane, which crashed into the moun­tains near Medellin. The dis­as­ter killed 71 peo­ple, in­clud­ing al­most all the Chapecoense team, direc­tors and staff.

Goal­keeper Foll­man, one of Ruschel’s best friends in the team, also sur­vived, but had part of his leg am­pu­tated. He was trans­ferred on Satur­day morn­ing via air am­bu­lance from Sao Paulo to a hos­pi­tal in the club’s home city in south­ern Brazil. “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 art.”

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