Survivor Joel D’Souza- the FIRST Person to Jump Out of 2010 Air India Express Crash Shares His Ordeal
Air India Express Flight 812 from Dubai to Mangaluru crashed on May 22, 2010. Of the 160 passengers and crew on board, only eight survived- and one among them was Joel Prathap D’souza, aged 34, hailing from Vamanjoor, Mangaluru, and presently working and residing in Dubai, shared his harrowing experience on that ill-fated flight over the phone to Team Mangalorean, and ten years later, he says, “I still gets jitters when I travel on a plane, and therefore I always take a companion with me to help me calm down till my flight journey reaches the final destination”.
Joel Prathap D’souza
In its deepest corners and darkest moments, India still manages to shine. Apart from Joel, many other survivors of this plane crash, have described how they escaped from the burning wreckage of the flight moments after it crashed on landing. The Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot the runway and plunged into a wooded valley before it broke up and burst into flames. Eight out of 166 passengers and crew either made their way out of the wreckage or were rescued by firemen and local villagers who came to help. After the tragic accident, few survivors spoke from hospital of their harrowing experience. Some of the survivors said they heard a sound like a tyre bursting just before the crash.
After ten years, Joel Prathap D’Souza, aged 34, who was the first person to jump out of ill-fated Air India Express flight IX-812 on May 22, 2010 to save himself said over the phone in a jovial manner, that he even till date, gets jitters when he travels by plane and it’s a nightmare to fly. Joel, a resident of Vamanjoor, Mangaluru was one among eight other survivors, and working in Dubai he used to come down to Mangaluru every, and every time land at MIA Bajpe airport, but 22 May 2010 was a day that he still remembers till date as one of the horrific experiences he had in his life, when the plane he traveled crashed killing 158 passengers, including the two pilots and the four-member cabin crew. He still remembers that on the ill-fated flight he was seated in seat number 23, ten years ago.
Joel said, “After that tragic accident, the shock and fear is still buried inside me. Till I am ready to board the flight I am quite normal, but once the plane reaches the sky, I get jitters and therefore whenever I travel I need a person besides me to calm me down. And this is the case every time I take a journey by flight, due to that trauma of that May 2010 day. I lose control of myself, where I start shivering, hallucinations and totally lose my mind till the plane makes a landing. I sometimes feel bad when I cause trouble to other passengers on board especially when the plane is ready to land. And that’s the only reason I never travel alone, and I need someone whom I know beside me to calm down”.
“I will never forget that tragic ‘Black 22 Day of May 2010’, and since then, it haunts me every year. On that ill-fated day I was returning to Mangaluru from Dubai to change my visa and suppose to return back within a week. I had got a job at this company which I am currently employed and was flying back to change of visa procedures. But unfortunately, due to my injuries from the accident, I faced hardship in joining the work. When i jumped out of the plane to save myself, I suffered a compression fracture of the vertebra and a ligament injury to my right knee, and it took days to recover. Even though I received compensation but I value my life more and not money. Whenever people ask what saved me, I say it’s my prayers and devotion.” said Joel D’souza, who is married, currently works as maintenance personnel at Ducab, Dubai.
MANGALOREAN PRADEEP G KOTIAN-YET ANOTHER SURVIVOR STORY OF THE AIR INDIA EXPRESS CRASH ON 22 MAY 2010
Apart from Joel, yet another survivor to share his ordeal was Mangalorean Pradeep G Kotian, who used to work as a technical supervisor at a private company in Dubai, but presently settled in Mangaluru, where he is a civil contractor, and into real estate business, said – “At the time of landing, as it touched down, there was a tyre burst and the flight went out of control. Within five seconds of the blast there was fire and smoke all over; I could not even breathe. At that time, I saw a broken window, through which I jumped – to save myself. I hurt my legs and hands. The flight was like any other – children moving around, a crying baby and so on – until 30 minutes before our arrival in Mangaluru, when all of a sudden we felt as though the plane had dropped several feet. It was just for a moment, but a scary one “.
File Photo of Pradeep Kotian getting treatment at a hospital after the crash
“Sometime later, when the announcement for landing was made, I fastened my seat belt, happy that I would meet my family soon. But that happiness did not last long. Just as we landed, I knew something was wrong. The plane was moving way too fast for a landing. And then, all of a sudden, it started shaking violently. The next thing I remember is hearing screams from every direction. Everything seemed out of control. My seat had turned upside down. I couldn’t see anything. There was smoke everywhere. It was really hot. My eyes were burning. There was a stench. I somehow managed to get up, walk a bit, and luckily found an opening. The plane had broken. I got out and found myself in a jungle. There were a few others who managed to escape like me. But we could not save anyone. There was too much smoke”
“Then, suddenly, there was a blast – the plane was burning really bad. Ten years later, I still cannot believe it was for real. At that time, I did not even realize how badly I was burnt – my forehead, my hair, my ears, my legs and hands were all burnt. I am grateful to the local people who took us to the hospital. I pray no one has to ever go through what we went through. No one deserves it. It is not easy to get over a plane crash. Planes fly over my house, reminding me daily. There is no getting away. I sometimes cannot even sleep. I can still see those children walking up and down the flight. At the end of the day, I believe it was the good deeds of my father, who was a social worker, that saved my life, and I am grateful for that”. Pradeep says he is happy that he got a second life, and he will be focusing more on social work.