In the middle of saying goodbye Sebastian Piñera In Chile, one of the survivors of the tragedy gave details of the accident that ended the life of the former president and revealed a chilling event. It was when, before taking off, the former president explained to them how to act in case of an emergency.
“Everything happened very quickly, we fell into the water and there I managed to open the helicopter door”explains Bautista, son of Ignacio Guerrero, the businessman and friend of Piñera who was traveling as co-pilot in the Robinson 44 that ended up crashing last Tuesday on the waters of Lake Ranco, an exclusive resort more than 800 kilometers south of the capital. where the former president spent summers with his family.
The 23-year-old young man was traveling behind his father, along with Piñera's sister. It was after 2:30 p.m. when they decided to return from the house of José Cox, another friend of the former president who had received them for lunch in the middle of the vacation.
The law student remembers that, before embarking on the outward journey, Piñera explained to him what he should do with the doors of the aircraft in emergency cases, such as the possibility of falling into the lake. Those routine words, similar to the instructions of a stewardess to the passengers of a plane, ended up being key to leaving the accident unscathed.
When starting the return – says Bautista – there were problems just a couple of minutes after taking off. “Due to poor visibility we turned around where we could see better over the coast and there we came across the water“, he says in dialogue with El Mercurio.
“The last thing I heard was that (Piñera) would change course. Then he could have said something else, but I didn't listen,” says the young man who, like the rest of the passengers, was wearing aviation headphones.
The Navy had to carry out extensive rescue tasks since the helicopter sank 40 meters into the lake as a result of the fall.
Within seconds, the aircraft crashed over the lake. According to Bautista, The blow was not strong, but the helicopter was tilted towards the side where Piñera was, leaving those doors under water. And she began to sink immediately. That would explain why the former president did not leave on time.
On the other side, the door was over the water. In the midst of nervousness and tension, Bautista remembered those previous words from Piñera. “First I opened the door, then I took off my seatbelt and, when the helicopter was full, I got out. The headphones came off by themselves,” she says.
While they were sinking, his father and Magdalena Piñera managed to get out. “Everything was very fast. The water was dark and deep”he remembers.
After escaping the aircraft, they began to swim but a boat appeared before reaching the shore. It was José Cox, along with his son. Alerted by the situation, they rescued them at the same time that another boat appeared to help them. By then, the helicopter had already completely sunk and they saw no trace of Piñera. “We were all very bad, we already knew he had died”slides, with anguish.
His father, Ignacio, only managed to say a few small but forceful words in front of the press. “The real hero is here, by my side”he said, pointing to his son Bautista.
The last goodbye to Sebastián Piñera
Chile said goodbye this Friday in an emotional and solemn state funeral to former president Sebastián Piñera, who died last Tuesday in a helicopter accident on a lake in southern Chile.
From early in the morning, cabinet ministers Gabriel Boricparliamentarians, members of the Judiciary and representatives of the entire political spectrum arrived at the old Congress of Santiago to say their last goodbye to the former president on the third and last day of national mourning.
President Boric, the last of the representatives of the three branches of government to speak, said that Piñera “was a man who always put Chile first, who never let himself be carried away by fanaticism or resentment.”
“He was a leader who paved the way for a modern and democratic right,” added Boric, who as a deputy was a staunch opponent of his predecessor and also challenged him as a student leader during the massive protests of 2011.
The former president intervened before Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (1994-2000), who highlighted that “she always sought to serve the country with her values, her inexhaustible energy and a lot of passion,” and the former president Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010 and 2014-2018), which highlighted him as “an interlocutor capable of dialogue and listening to criticism.”
After an emotional hug to the widow and former first lady, Cecilia Moreland the gratitude of the family for the speeches, the ceremony ended with a symbolic guard of honor led by Boric himself and the former leaders, who escorted the coffin for a few minutes.
The presidential guard holds the coffin at the former headquarters of the National Congress, in Santiago. Photo: EFE
After the tribute in Congress, the procession left for the Metropolitan Cathedral, where the archbishop of Santiago, Fernando Chomalí, celebrated a mass. After the homily, close and prominent personalities dedicated a few words to the former president, including Luis Urzúa, representative of the 33 miners rescued from the San José mine in 2010, one of the achievements of his first Administration.
“Thanks to him we were rescued and today we can give a testimony and say: 'Yes, president, you could do it, you took us off the land, you fought for us with your family,'” he said.
On the family side, Two of his grandchildren and Sebastián Piñera Morel, the third of his four children, spoke.. “The name of Sebastián Piñera Echenique will be remembered forever, a unique, honest, brave, persevering, empathetic and respectful man; a man who did not know hatred and much less resentment and, above all, the most intelligent man I knew” said León, 18 years old, the oldest of his grandchildren.
Subsequently, the procession passed through La Moneda (government headquarters), where hundreds of followers were waiting for them. The coffin was paraded to the rhythm of Frédéric Chopin's 'Funeral March', embraced by a stony silence from the public. Boric and the Palace guard, in charge of receiving him every day during his mandate, paid him a last tribute there.