As the football world bounds together to play fundraising games for the Chapecoense football club, more attention is being brought to what a horrific tragedy occurred last November. After losing all but 3 members of their team, the survivors have come forward to tell their story and it is powerful.
At The Players’ Tribune, Allan Ruschel, Jakson Follman and Neto, the lone surviving members of the Chapecoense team after the crash, opened up about the accident that changed their lives.
Neto’s recounting is the most mystically haunting one of the bunch, as he says that he believes he had a premonition about the crash: “I dreamed that it would happen. A few days before we were supposed to leave for the Copa Sudamericana finals in Colombia, I had a terrible nightmare. When I woke up, I told my wife that I had been in a plane crash. I was in the airplane at night, and there was a lot of rain. Then the plane shut off. It fell from the sky. But somehow I could stand up from the wreckage.”
On the day of their scheduled flight to the finals, the Brazilian couldn’t shake the memory of the dream. With the cloud dangling over his head, Neto sent a text to his wife, asking her to pray for him and ask God to protect him from his dream. Then the unthinkable happened.
“And then I saw all the things from the dream really happening.…The plane shut off. The power went down completely. I was wide awake… Then the plane fell from the sky. It was beyond our comprehension as humans,” said the 32-year-old defender.
Shortly after being rescued from the crash, Neto and Ruschel–who just played in his first match since the accident–both woke up in the hospital confused and worried about the game. After the news was broken to them, they both were devastated yet grateful to be alive.
Looking towards the future, Follman wants to make sure that he lives for his lost brothers so that no one forgets his teammates. “One thing we do not want — and we will keep repeating this — we don’t want people to forget our friends who have left us. The people who passed away, they are heroes. Losing so many friends … people that were sons, that were fathers, that were brothers … it’s really hard to understand. Why would this all happen? It could have been avoided.”
When Follman says it could have been avoided, Neto jumps in to finish his thought, saying that the airline may be to blame for the crash. “The company who operated the plane were cutting the fuel to the minimum over and over again. Looking at the facts, we can see that sooner or later, this was going to happen. They did it so many times with other teams,” said Neto. “The company wanted to save a little bit of money, and they ended up taking the lives of a lot of people.”
You can read the trio’s harrowing account over at the Players Tribune.