A globe-trotting Dutch cyclist has cheated death twice after swapping flights and avoiding both doomed Malaysia Airlines flights involved in disasters over the past four months.
Maarten de Jonge, who has been traveling around the world to compete for a spot on Malaysia's Terengganu cycling team, was booked on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 until a last-minute swap saved him some money.
Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine on Thursday as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Everyone onboard the flight — 283 passengers and 15 crew — were killed.
“What has happened is terrible, so many victims, that's a horrible thing,” de Jong posted on his website. “I have my story and I would like to leave it at that... my story is ultimately nothing compared to the misery so many people have suffered.”
During an interview with Netherlands public broadcaster RTV Oost, de Jonge revealed he was also originally scheduled to fly on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which ultimately went missinging over the Indian Ocean back in March. 227 passengers and 12 crew members were onboard the flight.
“I could have taken that one just as easily,” De Jonge said. “It's inconceivable. I am very sorry for the passengers and their families, yet I am very pleased I'm unharmed.”
de Jonge told RTV Oost that despite narrowly missing two tragedies on Malaysia Airlines, he's booked on a flight with the airline later this week and isn't worried, although he admitted his parents are concerned.
“You should try not to worry too much because then you won't get anywhere,” he told RTV Oost. “I have been lucky twice, this will be the third time as well.”