RIONEGRO, Colombia – Chapecoense soccer player Alan Ruschel and reporter Rafael Henzel, two survivors of the airplane crash in Colombia that left 71 people dead last Nov. 28, were flown back to Brazil on Tuesday by the Brazilian air force (FAB).
At 8:10 am their ambulances left San Vicente Hospital where the two survivors had been cared for after the Lamia airliner went down that was flying the Chapecoense team to Medellin, where it was to contest the Copa Sudamericana final with Atletico Nacional.
“The patients are very stabilized. We expect a calm flight. The plane is equipped to deal with any emergency,” the head of hospital care and emergencies at the Brazilian Health Ministry, Edgar Tolini, told reporters.
Ruschel on a stretcher and Henzel in an Atletico Nacional T-shirt were put aboard the plane home at Colombia’s CACOM 5 air force base in Rionegro.
Once aboard, the survivors were under the care of four doctors, including an intensive care physician of the FAB, who, before Ruschel and Henzel boarded, checked their emotional state to guarantee them a “calm” flight.
Before takeoff, Chapecoense team physician Carlos Mendonça, charged with keeping a close watch on the survivors, waved at the cameras and put his hand upon his heart as a sign of affection, and showed the Nacional T-shirt with the autographs of well-known soccer players.
Tolini said the plane had two refueling stops scheduled, one at Manaos and the other in Brasilia, before the final flight of an hour and 40 minutes to Chapeco, where it was awaited by a medical team.
“Alan and Rafael travel very well, they’re calm, in stable condition with no medical complications. They’re going to Chapeco Hospital, and then home,” said Dr. Edson Stakonski, a Chapeco intensive care cardiologist.
The specialist added that the two survivors felt very grateful to Colombia’s people and institutions for the way they had cared about them and looked after them.