“Maybe not too old to rock ‘n’ roll — but certainly too young to die…”
Those are the words one man wrote after finding out he had a ticket for the fatal Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed moments after take-off.
Antonis Mavropoulos published the picture of his plane ticket, along with a description of what happened to Facebook in a post titled “My lucky day.”
He described how on his way to an environmental conference, he ran from his first flight to catch Flight ET302, but boarding had ended, even though he could see the final passengers leave the airport.
“I screamed to put me in but they didn’t allow it,” he wrote, adding officials were kind and booked him onto another flight to Nairobi.
He says he was shown to an airport lounge to wait for the next flight, which left nearly three hours later.
The plane departed at 8:38 a.m., but lost radio contact with the airport six minutes later. It then crashed into a field about 50 kilometres away from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, killing all 157 passengers aboard – including 18 Canadians.
After two hours of waiting in the lounge, Mavropoulos said airport officers told him he would not be boarding the next flight.
He said they told him about the crash and they kept him at the airport until they could confirm his identity.
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“At first I thought he was lying, but his style left no margin of doubt,” he wrote. “I felt the ground lost under my feet.”
“That for two small random circumstances I [missed] the flight — the moment I made that connection I collapsed because then exactly I realized how lucky I stood,” he wrote.
“I’m grateful to live and that I have so many friends that made me feel their love — kisses to all and a warm thank you for your touching support.”
In an interview with SKAI news in Greece, Mavropoulos said he hadn’t slept.
“Let me tell you the truth, I did not sleep all night because it’s hard to realize all that happened,” he said.
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“It’s shocking to know that they were lost for nothing in a fraction of a second, and what separated you from their fate is some minutes, maybe two minutes or maybe one.”
Investigators are looking for a cause of the disaster. Many airlines and countries have grounded the model of plane, Boeing 737 MAX, until the cause is determined.