October 13th, 2010
09:50 AM ET

'Alive' survivor to miners: 'Tell your story, but live your life'

Presumed dead, Ramon Sabella and 15 others survived a 1972 plane crash in the treacherous, sub-zero Andes Mountains for more than two months. The world was stunned to learn that he and members of his rugby team had been able to live in the mountains despite shortage of food, brutal cold and avalanche threats.

Their unlikely tale of perseverance in the face of extreme adversity brought immediate attention and intense curiosity.

After their rescue, so extreme was the attention from reporters and photographers who followed Sabella that he found cameras in his hospital bathroom.

He and his fellow survivors were young, around 18 to 20 years old, and just wanted to go home, Sabella recalled.

“I wanted to be with friends and family,” he said. “The press was uncomfortable.”

Sabella emphasized that his experience of survival and the Chilean miners are completely different.

The miners have communicated regularly with the outside world, their families, health experts and psychologists. They also have a steady supply of food, medicine and water. But Sabella and his fellow survivors were completely cut off from the world.

Sabella noted, too, that the number of news media outlets has exploded since his rescue in the 1970s.

The attention can be  unwelcome, but Sabella said the miners are “strong.” He and three other plane crash survivors visited the Chilean mine in September to send them encouraging messages.

Could the crush of media attention on the miners hinder their recovery?

“If the miners can hang on and be normal, spend time with family and friends, they can manage not to be overwhelmed,” Sabella said. “They’ll be OK.”

The glare of the spotlight will be intense, but Sabella said, “Remember, it’s going to be a limited time span. It may be weeks, but then go back to real life. There’s going to be attention, media scrutiny, books, movies - that’s not normal life.”

Sabella's plane crashed exactly 38 years ago Wednesday and inspired the book and movie "Alive."

After having survived the media glare, Sabella warned, “Don’t live exclusively for that [attention]. Tell your story, but live your life.”

CNN.com's Sophia Dengo contributed to this report.

soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Kirk84

    Some of the posts here allude to some kind of divine or theistic influence in the rescue of the Chilean Miners. Others proclaim that their survival and rescue was the result of human perseverance. I say whatever works for you. However, if I was in the mine I would not rely only on deity, some human free will had to start the "ball rolling."

    October 13, 2010 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. kdog

    If I go first, I give you permission to eat my butt...

    October 13, 2010 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Well...

    Considering that this article had absolutely nothing to do with any form or 'god' whatsoever, I think all of you are misguided in whatever it is that you are seeking to accomplish. The truth? Based on logic and reason alone? It's very, very simple. I'm sure that it is safe to assume that everyone believes in the commonality of 'Cause and Effect.' For every consequence, whether it be good or bad, is the effect of some cause. There are infinite examples so I shouldn't have to give one. Reason leads you to believe that there had to be some cause that sparked the nuclear fission of matter that, theoretically, caused a massive explosion which released all the energy and matter we see today. Whether or not you agree with the 'Big Bang' segment of the past sentence, there still was an initial cause that triggered creation. Now logic comes in. This initial cause had to be the '1st Cause', one that was put into effect by an intelligent entity that, by logic, had to be infinite in its own creation. We, feeble little human beings that we are, cannot grasp the concept of something being existent for infinity, simply because our capacity for knowledge cannot handle the ideology of such a concept. So stop arguing about divine and ultimate power, because in the end, that is all that we can truly know by the limits of our own minds.

    October 13, 2010 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. mike hunt

    "Alive" survivors to miners: 'Don't eat your friends.'

    October 13, 2010 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Thiru

    Folks – Don’t get confused ….GOOD things are GOD and Bad Things EVIL..? GOD can also be BAD?......So GOD is nothing but can be a thought from some body’s mind to save a person or or to do a good things in the earth so…in this case ..whoever helped to get the mines to come out of the trap all those people’s activity is nothing BUT GOD….it can be the driller…or who initiated the effort of thinking to rescue or anything helped to get them out is GOD.

    October 13, 2010 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. SAl

    I want to send all the people that have helped these miners and also sending all my prayers to the families to have patience, love, strength because that's what they will need in the coming months. God was with them all the way. I believe he knows when it is time for all of us to go and it wasn't there time to go yet. So, people that are very negative and don't believe in a spiritual way that's ok that is your opinion, but don't mess with God. You don't know who you are messing with.

    October 13, 2010 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Gary D.

    A survivor of the 1970's plane crash where they ATE PEOPLE is giving advice to the miners? What did he say, "If anyone dies, be sure to clean your plate?!!!".

    October 13, 2010 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Help

    Hey guys, will you visit SaveStan.ORG a friend of mine with 4 young babies is fighting for his life...... Thanks

    October 13, 2010 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Robert W.

    Some thank God, others thank chance. Whatever, be thankful for these people.

    October 13, 2010 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. thunderkick

    greatest headline ever

    October 13, 2010 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. dd

    How interesting! All the replies about God.... I am a christian but I do not credit the rescue itself to Him. Rather I guess He does not involve with those affairs directly. But I guess He set an example how to act when we face that severe situation... by helping each other and loving each other. And from my experience, I feel He is there with me when I try so. He is not explicable but alive. I just think we human beings do not have full knowledge on Him. All the criticism up there is empty because it is based on the hypothesis that if God exists, He should involve in extinguishing pain. No, he is not. He is just walking with us to go through every path of our lives.

    October 13, 2010 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Heru

      Some would argue that capitalism drveis the poor and unmotivated further into poverty. But I like the fact that anybody, with motivation and a good idea, can make a living doing what they want. We talked in my poetry class this last quarter about Russian poetry being void of depth because poets were disciplined for writing anything outside of physical descriptions or praises for Mother Russia. I started reading Marx's Manifesto, and I'm astonished at how similar the language is to that our politicians are using.

      September 14, 2012 at 02:40 | Report abuse |
  12. therightious

    now they should put the City of Bell's City Counsel in the whole especially that Rizzo man and the Chief of Police... oh ya.. never mind Rizzo too fat wouldnt fit in that whole.. oh ya and put Brown and Whitman in there .. hey is it just me or does Meg Whitman look like Benjamin Franklin?

    October 13, 2010 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ruhlmann

      It's not just you.

      October 13, 2010 at 19:43 | Report abuse |
  13. Dee Smith

    Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Thus sayeth the Lord. Now, you may not like that and may not believe it now, but you will eventually. I just hope it isn't too late for you when you do. God (not Allah) has blessed the hands, hearts and minds of all those involved in bringing the miners back to the surface. And God has been with them all the time. Blessed be the name of the Lord. May He continue to magnify the grace and glory of Jesus Christ. Welcome back miners! God continue to bless you all who have been instrumental in bringing them back!

    October 13, 2010 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Emrys

      @ dee: jesus who?

      sorry, dee, but it's your pompous, arrogant assumption that *you* know the "real" truth which is exactly what is so offensive to non-christians. i'm happy for you that you have your little man-on-a-stick that you can blame all your stupid mistakes on, and to whom you can attribute all that's good that happens to you. seriously, that's great. you're more than welcome to believe in him, or the FSM, or paul the octupus, or any other damned thing you choose to believe in... just keep your obnoxious opinions to yourself, and quit spewing that nonsense in my face. is that so hard for you? or are you truly so insecure in your own beliefs that you have to wrecklessly wave them in the face of everyone nearby?

      @ everyone else who actually walks the walk, and lives out your christian principles: i'm sorry. i really don't mean any offense to those who live their faith day-to-day. i really am happy for you that you have a faith in something that helps you to cope with this sick twisted world we inhabit. but people like dee who so arrogantly treat non-believers with such obnoxious disdain are just reaping what they sow... it is completely unnecessary and downright rude of people like her to wield their "faith" like a weapon... and in fact, as i understand it, displays of such holier-than-thou pride is, in fact, sinful, by the tenets of the faith they profess to espouse. hypocrites... they just piss me off.

      October 27, 2010 at 00:23 | Report abuse |
  14. gibbs1820

    'Alive' is THE GREATEST book ever. The spirit of those boys was inspirational, to know the world had given up the 'recovery' efforts and to find your own way out of the mountains, plus what the families went through, words cannot describe it! I recently purchased Nando's book but haven't had a chance to enjoy it.

    October 13, 2010 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Ruhlmann

    Again this response is to Wow.

    October 13, 2010 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. http://www.improveconcentration.net

    Alive was still a good, no great movie

    October 13, 2010 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Improve Concentration

    Why did this need to happen?!

    October 13, 2010 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. m_dmarian

    For all those who criticize the credit God has received in this situation...imagine being trapped in a mine for 69 days. Imagine living in darkness for 17 days not knowing whether you will live to see another day or ever see your family again. Imagine the physical and emotional health that was put to the test for 33 of our world's bravest men. Who would you look to for hope and faith that you would survive? Obviously many of these men looked to their God for answers. Who are we to judge their beliefs that God had a part in their survival?

    October 13, 2010 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. amadojr

    For those who do not belive in God,your a fool,because God was the one who got all these man together at one time,in one place,before the Mine cave in,and save there Life..

    October 13, 2010 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Lizbeth

    Just "God bless them". They are alive and well. People has to do all kind of things to survive.
    Hope NOBODY has to go through a situation like this.

    October 14, 2010 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. stokcarr2

    God had nothing to do with their survival. Perseverance, strong wills, and extreme determination is what made those miners survive. Not to mention they had food and water, communication (including video) with rescue workers, doctors, family members, and friends. I am an atheist but I respect the beliiefs of the believers. If the miners felt that a higher power had something to do with their survival, then there's nothing wrong with that. Whatever it takes, huh?

    October 14, 2010 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. specter

    Oh and BTW BP didn't do Jack chit. It was an American drill buddy. Get your facts straight cacaguate

    October 14, 2010 at 08:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Kate

    In the name of God. Americans have killed millions of people at home and abroad, "In the name of God." American committed genocide, killing hundreds of thousands of indigenous indians, "In the name of God." Americans invoke God when it serves a political purpose. In fact, the term "one nation, under God" was added to the American pledge of allegiance during WWII as a way of intimidating the Japanese. The U.S. wanted to show that God supports America but not Japan. The U.S. kills more people every year than any other country in the world. And, read the messages on CNN's boards, Americans absolutely love the idea of killing people. Well, you reap what you sow!

    Most Americans that go to church do it only for social advancement and deal making. Americans use people to get what they want and then cast them aside. Americans worship at the alter of money and greed. America's actions are prime examples of "taking the lords name in vain." It is no wonder why God would abandon Americans because Americans are non-believers. Spitting in the face of God is probably not the wisest choise to make because God does not forget, ever...

    October 14, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Katie

    God is not a wishing well or a genie or a magician. Do not be bitter because God did not grant your wish for winning the lottery, or getting a promotion at work. Neither does God play games – if you test him then you will surely fail, "Dear God, IF you exist THEN you'll get me a date with Katie Perry." God serves those who serve him. God is not about religion.

    No, God is not about religion. Religious zealots destroyed most the nostic gospels by killing anyone associated with them. In the name of God there is much killing and vice. That is unacceptable. Put your faith in God, not religion. Religions are a tool for binding people together for a common cause – a political agenda. Using God's name as a political tool will serve only to be your undoing.

    October 14, 2010 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Maurice

      To share such an embarrassing exlmape from your life and use it to point to spiritual truth is the mark of a very authentic communicator. I think the problem you pose in the introduction is one many have faced and felt defeated by. I am anxious to read more !!!!

      September 14, 2012 at 00:54 | Report abuse |
  25. Mana Prasomsack

    Content has long been king, seems all of the black hats are getting owned by the white hat profit makers.


    January 20, 2021 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Genie Koback

    Think back to a most successful item of articles. Now think of all the additional methods you can deliver this information. Can it not work like being a movie? As an infographic? Just as a longer white-paper or manual? As a far more sophisticated collection of shorter posts?


    March 26, 2021 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.