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Family Aboard Flight 965 Was Heading Home For Christmas

December 22, 1995

SOMERVILLE, N.J. (AP) _ Like many of their fellow passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 965, Gonzalo Dussan Monroy, his wife and two children were heading to a holiday family reunion.

Dussan said he didn’t know anything was wrong until he felt the freezing cold of the Andes Mountains and a pain in his shoulder.

``When I woke up ... and saw everything scattered around me, I realized we were in an accident,″ Dussan said Thursday, strapped to a stretcher but miraculously alive.

``But I really wasn’t conscious of what was happening,″ said Dussan, 36, a Colombian who lives in Somerville, N.J.

Dussan and his 6-year-old daughter, Michelle, were among the handful of survivors among the 164 people aboard the plane that crashed Wednesday on an Andean peak in southwestern Colombia. There were conflicting reports about the fate of his wife, Nancy Delgado, and their 13-year-old son, Gonzalo Jr.

Anxious relatives in the United States and Colombia were still awaiting word today.

``I get a different story from everybody,″ said Dussan’s sister-in-law, Miriam Mera, who shares a Somerville home with the family.

Mrs. Mera said a relative who lives in Cali visited several hospitals and couldn’t find Delgado.

Other relatives of Mrs. Mera’s husband were on the same flight but were not among the known survivors. Luz, Michael and Stephanie Claros, of Hillsborough, were going to their homeland for the holidays.

``I am depressed,″ Mrs. Mera said.

The other two known survivors were identified as Mercedes Ramirez, 21, of Blue Springs, Mo., a student at Northwest Missouri State University; and Mauricio Reyes, a business student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Dussan and his wife, also 36, were returning to their native Cali for the reunion. They came to the United States 15 years ago. He is a technician at Ortho Diagnostic Systems Inc. in Raritan, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, said J&J spokesman Bob Kniffen.

Man of Dussan’s relatives were awed that anyone could have survived.

``It’s shocking for us,″ a cousin, Anna Gutierrez, told the New York Daily News. ``It’s a miracle in a way.″

Dussan, hospitalized in Cali, felt lucky to be alive.

``I want to thank God for what happened today,″ Dussan said.

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