Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dutch cyclist dodged both doomed Malaysian Airlines flights

Maarten de Jonge is on a lucky streak. The Dutch cyclist escaped death for a second time on Thursday when he changed his flight plans at the last minute and opted not to board Malaysian Airlines flight 17–just four months after he changed his plans from flying on still-missing Mayalsian Airlines flight 370.

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The Independent reports that de Jonge was booked on Thursday’s flight, but switched his plans when he found a cheaper flight leaving a few days later. News of the 29-year-old’s luck spread when he tweeted out a link to a Dutch story about the tragedy, with the note “Had I departed today, then…”

— Maarten de Jonge (@maartenmaleis) July 17, 2014

In an interveiw with Dutch public broadcaster RTV Oost, de Jonge revealed that not only had his last-minute decision saved his life on Thursday, but a similar decision saved him from the still-missing Malaysian Airlines flight in March. The athlete rides for Malaysia’s Terengganu Cycling Team and frequently travels internationally for competition. On his way to Taiwan in March, he switched to a flight that departed an hour earlier that didn’t include a layover in Beijing.

“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.”

In a statement on his website, de Jonge wrote: “What has happened is terrible, so many victims, that’s a horrible thing. 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.”

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Ashleigh Schmitz
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