A Colombian police officer has told how a Chapecoense player pleaded with him ‘not to let him die’ at the site of the plane crash that killed 71 people near the city of Medellin on Monday.
Superintendent Nelson Enrique Castrillon was among the first to arrive at the Cerro Gordo accident scene, about 17km from the doomed flight’s planned destination at Rionegro airport.
He said rescue teams had to drive through 8km of muddy tracks, cutting through fruit and vegetable plantations before reaching the crash scene shortly after midnight.
“The access was difficult but we got there,” Castrillon told Brazil’s Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.
“Then we saw a plane that was completely destroyed [with] bodies pressed against the seats. “I heard a voice asking for help. I went to him. He was caught in branches and [tree] trunks. I asked him his name. He said his name was Jakson. He asked me not to leave him alone, not to let him die. He said he was cold.
“In that moment I picked up the radio. I told the units to send support, doctors. I told them the situation was very difficult. They arrived and they got [Jakson] out and stabilized him.
“It was really tough to see because his legs were destroyed, totally destroyed. It was really tough to take in.”
Jakson Follmann was one of only six survivors from the crash. The 24-year-old had his right leg amputated below the knee but is in a stable condition, doctors said on Friday.
The other five survivors – three Chapecoense footballers and two flight attendants – suffered fractures and other trauma-related injuries.
Victims of the crash included 19 players from the Brazilian first division club and its entire coaching staff. Twenty journalists also died.
Investigations into the accident are expected to take months as authorities check the British Aerospace CP-2933 aircraft’s history and data stored in two black boxes.
A leaked recording revealed that pilot Miguel Quiroga told air traffic controllers moments before the crash that the aircraft ran out of fuel.
Bolivian authorities on Thursday suspended local airline LaMia, which operated the ill-fated plane, pending an investigation.
Chapecoense had been due to meet Colombia’s Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the Copa Sudamerica final over two legs on November 30 and December 7.
South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL suspended the matches while the Brazilian football confederation also postponed the last round of Serie A fixtures as well as the Copa do Brasil final.