One of the two survivors of the plane crash that wiped out virtually the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice-hockey team walked away from the wreckage on his own despite serious injuries, a police eyewitness said on Thursday.
Forty-three people were killed when a Yak-42 aircraft fell to earth shortly after taking off from Yaroslavl’s Tunoshna airport on Wednesday. Part of the plane fell into the nearby Volga River.
The two survivors, Russian national side player Alexander Galimov and crew-member Alexander Sizov, were flown to Moscow on Thursday. They are in a critical condition. Galimov suffered 90% burns.
A police officer involved in the rescue operation described on Thursday how he and a colleague encountered Galimov immediately after the crash.
“Part of the plane was in the water, and the rest was burning on the riverbank,” officer Dmitry Konoplev said. “A man was trudging through the water toward the shore. We first thought he was a fisherman who just happened to be near the crash site, but then we realized it was a survivor.”
“He was seriously burnt. At first, we didn’t even know how to help him, but then caught him by the elbows and wrists and dragged him on board our boat,” Konoplev said. “He was shaking from the cold and asking us to cover him [with blankets].”
“We talked to him all the way to the city so that he wouldn’t pass out. He was very brave and in clear mind,” Konoplev said.
The officer also said another man wearing a pilot’s uniform emerged from the wreckage in the water shortly after they saw the first survivor. He [crew-member Sizov] was dragging the body of a person wearing the same uniform.
Sizov was treated by medical teams that arrived at the crash site shortly thereafter. He is in a less serious state, with only 15% of burns, broken rib bones and a head trauma.
The Lokomotiv roster included players and coaches from 10 countries, including the team’s Canadian coach, Brad McCrimmon, Swedish goalie Stefan Liv and Czech striker Karel Rachunek.
International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel called the crash “the darkest day in the history of our sport.”