A plane carrying coconuts, fish, and a mother and her baby was making its way across Colombia when something went wrong and within moments, the plane was going down. The small aircraft smashed violently into a hard to access part of the jungle, and the cockpit was entirely destroyed.
But Maria Nelly Murillo found herself and her baby son, Yudier, miraculously alive. The passenger area was mostly intact, and the burns and injuries she sustained were not life-threatening. Her baby was in good condition, and she was determined to keep him that way.
Murillo knew people would come looking for a missing plane, but she did not know when. She also did not know at the time that the plane had disappeared from the radar, and authorities did not know where to start their search.
For the next few days, she held on to hope of rescue.
When no help came initially, she knew she had to get going. She also feared the plane might explode if she stayed by the wreckage.
But in case people came looking, Murillo wanted them to be able to find her—so she started leaving a trail of things from the plane. She left documents that belonged to her, including the birth certificate of her baby, and other personal belongings and clues.
Murillo started traveling away from the wreckage, seeking shelter, baby in tow.
First, she drank the coconut water from the surviving cargo the plane was carrying. When she ran out, she caught rainwater with leaves and kept going.
Meanwhile, Colonel Hector Carrascal of the Colombian Air Force was leading a rescue search.
“We didn’t have a clue what had happened to them: they could be lost in the jungle trying to survive or they could have died already,” he told BBC.
There were people searching the jungle by foot, and others flying overhead with a helicopter, calling the passengers names. But they searched for two days and turned up no survivors.
Eventually, she had found a cabin in the jungle where she found respite. It was around there that she heard calls over a loudspeakers, and knew that rescue had come.