On 24 August 1981, an An-24 passenger aircraft carrying the Savitsky couple collided with a Tu-16 long-range bomber at an altitude of 5220 m. The main reason for the crash was poor coordination between military and civilian dispatchers. After the collision, the crews of both aircraft were killed.
At the time of the crash, Larisa Savitskaya was asleep in her seat. She woke up from a strong shock and a sudden cold (the temperature instantly fell from 25°C to -30°C). Then Larisa was thrown into the aisle. The woman reached the nearest seat and climbed inside. She saw this posture in a movie.
Part of the aircraft’s fuselage landed on a birch grove, which cushioned the fall. Savitskaya was unconscious for several hours. Waking up on the ground, Larisa saw a seat with the dead husband’s body in front of her. She herself suffered a number of serious injuries. However, she was able to move independently.
Two days later, rescuers were very surprised by finding a living person. While waiting for rescuers, Larisa built a temporary shelter from the remains of the aircraft. It rained all these days. Larisa, the bodies of her husband and two other passengers were the last to be discovered.
Doctors determined she had a concussion, spinal injuries and fractures to her arm and ribs. She also lost almost all her teeth. The consequences of those injures turned out to be lifelong. She was the only survivor of the 38 people on board.
The first mention of Larisa Savitskaya was in the newspaper “Soviet sport” in late 1985. However, the article said that she had felt from a height of five kilometers during a test of an aircraft in 1979.
Despite numerous injuries, Larisa Savitskaya was not registered as a disabled person. According to Soviet standards, neither the severity of her individual injuries allowed her to get disability status nor it was possible to get it for the totality of traumas. Later, Larisa was paralyzed. However, she was able to recover, although she could not perform many jobs. The woman had to live on casual earnings and even starved.
In 1986, Larisa gave birth to her son Gosha without a husband. For a long time, they lived only on child care benefits.
The unusual fate attracted the media attention. Numerous interviews and TV programmes with Savitskaya appeared.
Larisa Savitskaya is twice included in the Russian edition of the Guinness Book of Records:
a) as a person who survived a fall from a maximum height;
b) as a person who received the minimum amount of compensation for physical damage – 75 roubles.
According to the standards of the State Insurance in the USSR, 300 roubles were paid for compensation for damage for the dead and 75 roubles for survivors of aviation accidents.
Based on Wikipedia
President of the Union of Criminalists and Criminologists
Igor M. Matskevich
Translated by Elizaveta Ovchinnikova