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Survivor of Cali Plane Crash Tells of Flight’s Final Moments

December 27, 1995

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ One minute, Gonzalo Dussan was in his seat with his family as his airplane made its final approach to Cali. The next he was lying in the wreckage of American Airlines Flight 965 on the side of a Colombian mountain.

The 36-year-old man from Somerville, N.J., said Tuesday that he could remember nothing of the crash itself.

He heard the voice of his 6-year-old daughter, Michelle _ one of just three other people and one small dog who survived the Dec. 20 crash of the flight from Miami _ the deadliest airline accident of 1995.

But his wife, Nancy Delgado, 35, and 13-year-old son, Gonzalo Jr., lay among the 160 corpses scattered across the Andean mountainside.

The injured father and daughter were brought together on Christmas Day for their first visit since the disaster.

``When I saw her yesterday, I gave thanks to God,″ Dussan told a news conference Tuesday. ``I tried to be happy with her in order to make believe that nothing wrong happened.″

Recovering from two cracked vertebrae, Dussan wore a neck brace and spoke from a wheelchair. Michelle suffered a broken leg.

The cause of the crash 40 miles from the southwestern city of Cali remains unclear and a final determination is still months away. The Boeing 757 from Miami was 13 miles off course and flying in good weather when it smashed into the mountain.

Colombian and U.S. technicians at the National Transportation Safety Board laboratory in Washington have inspected two ``black box″ recorders recovered from the wreckage and believe operational error is to blame, The Washington Post has reported.

Police said Tuesday that authorities had recovered all the bodies. All but three of the victims have been identified, said Juan Carlos Osa, a police agent in nearby Buga.

All four survivors were improving Tuesday, the hospital said.

Mercedes Ramirez, 21, was in the intensive care unit and Mauricio Reyes, 19, a business student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, was in stable condition.

Update hourly