Columbia: A surviving member of the Chapecoense soccer team, decimated by a plane crash two weeks ago on its way to the championship of a South American tournament, awoke from a coma this weekend with no memory of the accident and asked about the outcome of the game, according to the team’s doctor.
Hélio Hermito Zampier Neto, known professionally by the mononym Neto, was one of the six survivors of LaMia Flight 2933 that crashed in the hills of northwestern Colombia Nov. 28 and killed 71 people on board, including 19 of Neto’s teammates.
Upon gaining consciousness after almost two weeks, Neto asked who won the final of the Copa Sudamericana and why he was unable to play, team doctor Edson Stakonski said.
The two additional surviving Chapecoense players, Alan Ruschel and Jackson Follmann, are returning to Brazil today, but Neto’s condition precludes him from leaving San Vicente Foundation Hospital in Rionegro for the time being, according to Stakonski.
Doctors and psychologists at the hospital are withholding information about the crash from Neto, 31, until he is stable.
In addition to the three players, the other survivors of the accident were flight attendant Ximena Suarez, aircraft technician Erwin Timuri and journalist Rafael Valmorbida.
An investigation of the accident is underway and a member of Colombia’s civil aviation authority confirmed that the plane only had enough fuel to reach its destination, lacking reserves in case of an emergency. Air traffic control audio recorded pilots and controllers’ discussing a “fuel problem” and “total failure,” as well as requests for an emergency landing.
The pilots additionally chose to bypass a scheduled refueling stop earlier in the trip, according to a government official in Antioquia, Colombia.
It appeared that the plane’s tail clipped the top of a mountain and broke off as it approached José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, a Colombian official with Civil Defense of Medellin said.
In just its third season since gaining promotion to Brazil’s premier Serie A in 2014, Chapecoense was in the midst of an unexpected run to the finals of the tournament, considered to be the continent’s second most important, which draws teams from a number of major leagues.
The match was suspended after the crash and the Chapecoense team was declared the winner last week after Atletico Nacional, their scheduled opponent, requested that they be awarded the title.