Man Booked on Doomed Lion Air Flight Spared by Jakarta’s Traffic

Oct 29, 2018

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Jakarta’s infamous traffic saved this man’s life.

Sony Setiawan, an Indonesian man who works for the country’s finance ministry, was booked to fly on Monday’s ill-fated Lion Air flight JT610, which crashed in the Java Sea minutes after takeoff, but he got stuck in traffic and missed the flight.

“I usually take (Flight) JT610 — my friends and I always take this plane,” the man told AFP on Monday. Setiawan says that he was stuck on a toll road for hours trying to get to Jakarta’s Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CKG) to make the flight, which left for Pangkal Pinang (PGK) at 6:20am local time. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 lost contact with air traffic controllers and crashed 13 minutes after takeoff.

“I don’t know why the traffic at the toll road was so bad,” Setiawan continued. “I usually arrive in Jakarta at 3am, but this morning I arrived at the airport at 6:20am, and I missed the flight.”

Indonesia’s finance ministry has said 20 staff members from the government agency were on the flight — Setiawan’s colleagues — who were returning to their posts in Pangkal Pinang after spending the weekend with their families in Jakarta. Setiawan boarded a second flight to PGK and only heard about the crash when he landed safely.

“The first time I heard I cried,” Setiawan said of the crash. “I know my friends were on that flight.”

His family was overcome with relief and emotion when they heard he was safe. “My family was in shock, and my mother cried, but I told them I was safe, so I just have to be grateful,” he said.

The cause of the crash still remains unknown, but at least six bodies have been recovered from the Java Sea, along with aircraft debris believed to be the plane’s tail and some passengers’ personal belongings.

Featured image by RONI BAYU/AFP/Getty Images.

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