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  HOME | Bolivia

Only Woman to Survive Colombia Plane Crash Still Living the Nightmare

LA PAZ – The nightmare hasn’t ended for Ximena Suarez of Bolivia, the only woman to survive the Lamia airline plane crash in Colombia and who now faces the financial problems of paying her medical bills and supporting her family until she can go back to work.

Three months have gone by since the Lamia airliner went down near the Colombian city of Medellin, and Suarez’s life is far from getting back to normal, since she is having physiotherapy for ankle and back injuries, requires nose surgery and dental treatment along with psychological and psychiatric therapy.

“They tell me it will take eight months. What I want is to recover as soon as possible so I can get back to work. I need money to keep going,” the flight attendant told EFE in a statement.

The Lamia airliner carrying soccer players and managers of Brazil’s Chapecoense team, along with reporters and the flight crew, crashed last Nov. 28 near Medellin after running out of fuel.

Killed in the accident were 71 of the 77 passengers aboard, while besides Suarez, three soccer players, another crew member and a journalist survived.

Born in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, the flight attendant not only needs money for her recovery, but also to care for her two children ages 6 and 2, since she is a single mother.

Thanks to the efforts of her attorney Carlos Subirana, the airline’s insurance covered the cost of the clinic where she initially received treatment in Medellin and some of the additional medical costs she has had up to now.

With her accident insurance almost used up, with no paycheck for six months and still with no compensation for the accident in Colombia, Suarez agreed that her family in the United States would launch a campaign to collect money on the Web site Gofundme.

Though that project should have meant some relief for the flight attendant, it became just another headache when she received floods of criticism from people accusing her of taking advantage of the situation to dodge going back to work – something she categorically denies.

“I have never been without work. Everyone who knows me will tell you that I have worked since I left school. I’m not lazy, I don’t want to take advantage of anyone as they claim. A lot of people even wished me dead. It’s incredible,” she said.

The negative messages aimed at her on social networks and on the Gofundme Web site hurt her so much it caused a relapse in the progress she had been making with her psychological healing.

“I take sleeping pills, I can’t sleep, I keep seeing the crash. I’m like that again. I see the messages and it hurts me so much. And the saddest thing is that they’re mostly from people in my own country,” Suarez said.

Despite all that, the flight attendant said not one day goes by that she doesn’t thank God for saving her life and that she feels tremendous gratitude for all those who prayed for her recovery.

She said her dream is to “to fly again” and that she is working with her psychologist and her psychiatrist to achieve that goal.


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