Mexican survivor of Seoul Halloween crush feared she’d die in Itaewon


Juliana Velandia Santaella photographed young women dressed as bananas, hot dogs, and french fries on the streets of Itaewon at 10:08 p.m. Saturday night. He then decided to go home and down the narrow alley where he would escape his death.

A 23-year-old Mexican medical student was crushed by a packed crowd that slowly pushed hundreds of people down the avenue that became the epicenter of the crash that killed at least 153 people. Velandia quickly broke up with her friend Carolina Cano, 21, from Mexico, and felt the weight of other people’s bodies crushing her.

“At some point, my feet wouldn’t touch the ground anymore,” he said. “There was an unconscious guy on top of me that was affecting my breathing.”

Velandia concentrated on taking shallow breaths through her mouth as her lungs seemed to flatten. According to her, people around her were screaming or calling the police, but then they gradually became silent as their bodies went limp above and below her. Stuck in a crowd, she remembers only being able to move her neck freely as the rest of her body was restricted.

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“I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll be next.’ I really thought I was going to die,” she said. “I was completely paralyzed. At some point I couldn’t feel my legs. I couldn’t even move my toes.”

He stayed like that, unable to feel parts of his body, until a young South Korean man standing on a high board grabbed his hands and pulled him through the crowd. She said she was then able to look at her phone and saw the time was 10:57 p.m

A few minutes later, she began to feel sensations in her legs; at first, “there were so many unconscious bodies on the floor that I couldn’t even walk,” she said.

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Velandia’s extensive injuries show what can happen when a dangerous mob collides. On Sunday, she quickly developed a fever and spent four hours in the emergency room at St. Mary’s Hospital, Catholic University of Korea, where she was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a life-threatening condition that involves muscle damage and necrosis when cells break down. they did to die Speaking from her bedroom on Monday, she said the pain had worsened. One of his legs is swollen and purple, and he cannot put his whole foot on the ground when he walks.

Even now, if he breathes too much, his chest hurts.

G. Keith Still, a crowd safety expert and crowd science professor at Suffolk University in Britain, told The Post that compression or restrictive asphyxia is the likely cause of most people killed in crowd collisions. It takes about six minutes to get into this state if their lungs don’t have room to expand.

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“People don’t die of panic,” he said. “They are panicking because they are dying. So what happens when bodies fall over, people fall on top of each other, people struggle to get up and you end up with limbs tangled together.”

According to Welandia, many people were trying to move the bodies to cleaner ground to perform CPR while fleeing the crowd. He said some people who appeared to be lifeless had vomit in and around their mouths, indicating they had died of suffocation.

He found his friend Kano, who had borrowed a cell phone from a stranger to call him. The two met in front of Itaewon Station, a place where many visitors started their Halloween night.

“We hugged and cried a lot when we saw each other because we really thought the other was dead,” Welandia said. “It’s a miracle we’re alive, really.”


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