Seventy-seven young men, journalists, and flight crew members died. Only six survived. Colombia and Brazil are still in shock as they grieve the tragic loss. Atletico Nacional, Medellin's soccer team, has made it clear they hope the South American Football Confederation declares Chapecoense the champions of the 2016 South American cup.
Hearing this sad news reminded me of two other memorably horrific accidents. In a post (on September 2014) about a trip to Colombia with my oldest brother, I write about one. "Soon we will see the Andes, and I push the tragic memory of Flight 965 carrying Ariel Felton and Catalina del Corral out of my mind. That flight, and those school friends, didn't make it over the mountains in 1995."
And there’s the crash in 1972, when a Uruguayan plane crash-landed in the Andes carrying a rugby team to Chile. Sixteen of the 45 passengers survived and were rescued more than two months after the crash.
Here's an excerpt about it from The Existence of Pity.
“Why did everyone on the plane cross themselves and clap when we landed?” Aunt Rosie asked, setting her bag down by the car.
Mom’s hand hovered over the handle for a moment before she opened the door. I knew what she was thinking: South Americans never took flying over the Andes lightly. A few years earlier, a jet had collided into the mountains, stranding the few survivors on the treacherous peaks for over two months before they were rescued.
“They always clap like that,” Aaron told her with a casual smile. “They’re just glad to be on land again.”
“Well, I’m glad to be on land, too,” Aunt Rosie said.
I hated to admit it, but my brother knew how to smooth things over.
The Andes, so magnificent, so deadly. A Chilean saying is, “The Andes don’t give back what they take.” My heart goes out to the loved ones of those who died, and to the soccer community as a whole. This team will be sorely missed.