Many of the 1972 Uruguay Plane Crash Survivors Are Still Alive and Well Today

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jan. 10 2024, Published 11:32 a.m. ET

'Society of the Snow' cast survivors
Source: Netflix

There are some stories you just can’t make up, and the 1972 Uruguay plane crash is one of them, inspiring Spain and Netflix's Society of the Snow. On Oct. 13, 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed in the Andes mountains. It was chartered by the Old Christians Club rugby team to take their players, friends, and family members from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Santiago, Chile, for an exhibition match.

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But what actually happened changed the 40 passengers and five crew members’ lives forever. The plane made an emergency landing in Mendoza, Argentina, due to bad weather on Oct. 12. It set flight again the next day, but when the pilot misjudged his location, the plane began descending before it was out of the Andes, crashing and sliding down a mountain into a valley.

'Society of the Snow' cast
Source: Netflix

A still from Netflix's 'Society of the Snow'

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Twelve people died in the initial crash, and six more died in the following week due to the freezing temperatures and their injuries. This left 27 survivors, many of whom were injured. Search efforts failed to spot them because of how they blended in with the snow, so efforts were halted after a few days as everyone was presumed dead. After 72 days, there were only 16 survivors who made it out. Where are they now?

Many of the 1972 Uruguay plane crash survivors are alive, well, and speaking about their experiences.

For the first time ever, the 16 survivors have allowed their names (and their fellow deceased passengers’ names) to be used in a film or series. While Yellowjackets is loosely based on the events of the 1972 plane crash, and the 1993 film Alive is basically a retelling of the events, Society of the Snow is the first film to directly reference what actually happened with the involvement of the survivors.

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'Society of the Snow' on Netflix
Source: Netflix

A still from Netflix's 'Society of the Snow'

Survivor Roberto Canessa told Time, “If we didn't get ourselves out, we were all going to die." He explained how the group had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive, but that director J.A. Bayona tells this story in a way that addresses the generosity and humanity of what happened, rather than the horror. Now, Roberto and his fellow survivors get to finally share their story with the world.

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Three of the survivors were instrumental in saving the others by venturing out to try to find civilization.

  • Roberto Canessa played by Matías Recalt, is now 70 years old. He became a pediatric cardiologist and motivational speaker. He ran for president in Uruguay in 1994 but didn't win.
  • Fernando “Nando” Parrado, played by Agustín Padrella, is now 74 years old and living in Montevideo. He co-wrote Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home and has appeared in many documentaries about the event. He’s now a TV presenter and entrepreneur.
  • Antonio “Tintin” Vizintín, played by Agustín Della Corte, is now 70 years old. He’s the vice president of the Uruguayan Rugby Union, an administrative board member for Viven Foundation, a grandfather, and a motivational speaker.
Robert Canessa
Source: Getty Images

Robert Canessa

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A couple of the plane crash survivors have passed away in the years following their survival.

  • Jose “Coche” Luis Inciarte, played by Simon Hempe, died in 2023 at 75 years old because of cancer and bone problems. He wrote the 2018 book Memoria de los Andes, was married, had three children, and had several grandchildren.
  • Javier Menthol, played by Esteban Bigliardi, ironically worked in the tobacco industry. However, he died in 2015 at 79 years old of cancer. He lost his wife, Liliana, in the plane crash, but he remarried and had four children.

Many 1972 plane crash survivors have remained in the public eye and spoken frequently about their experiences.

  • Adolfo “Fito” Strauch, played by Esteban Kukuriczka, worked in agriculture and had four children. He appeared in various documentaries about the incident.
  • Daniel Fernández, played by Francisco Romero, is now a public speaker and professor of agriculture, although he didn’t speak about the events for 30 years after they occurred.
  • Ramon “Moncho” Sabella, played by Rocco Posca, is a businessman living in Asunción, Paraguay. He’s also a public speaker who spoke with the survivors of the 2010 Copiapó mining accident in Chile.
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Ramon Sabella
Source: Getty Images

Ramon Sabella

  • Roy Harley, played by Andy Pruss, is now 73 years old. He studied civil engineering and now has a daughter. He’s since appeared in several documentaries about the crash.
  • Alfredo “Pancho” Delgado, played by Valentino Alonso, became a public and motivational speaker, talking about the religious aspects of the cannibalism he took part in. He now lives a relatively quiet life.
  • Pedro Algorta, played by Luciano Chatton, is now 72 years old. He wrote the 2016 book Into the Mountains: The Extraordinary True Story of Survival in the Andes and Its Aftermath and lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a businessman.
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Roy Harley
Source: Getty Images

Roy Harley

  • Álvaro Mangino, played by Juan Caruso, contributed to Piers Paul Reed’s book, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors. He married, worked in air conditioning and heating, and has several grandchildren while living in Montevideo.
  • Eduardo Strauch, played by Rafael Federman, co-wrote Out of the Silence: After the Crash, in 2019. He has an architectural studio and five children with his wife, Laura Braga.
  • Gustavo Zerbino, played by Tomás Wolf, is the director and CEO of the Uruguayan Rugby Federation. He’s also a motivational speaker in adversity management, drawing on his experiences.
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Other survivors have maintained relatively private lives.

  • Carlos “Carlitos” Páez, played by his real-life son Carlitos Paez, had a successful advertising agency, Rating Publicidad, and is the director of Bates Uruguay Publicidad.
  • Roberto “Bobby” François, played by Agustín Berruti, has maintained an entirely private life, so little is known about his whereabouts.
Carlos Paez
Source: Getty Images

Carlos Paez

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Twenty-nine people, who should also be remembered, died in the Uruguay plane crash.

While 29 people died in 1972 in the Uruguay plane crash, some are also featured in Society of the Snow. The 29 people are still remembered today.

  • Carlos Valeta
  • Daniel Shaw
  • Numa Turcatti
  • Francisco "Panchito" Abal
  • Felipe Maquirriain
  • Julio Martínez-Lamas
  • Lt. Col. Dante Héctor Lagurara
  • Graziela Augusto Gumila de Mariani
  • Susana Parrado
  • Gastón Costemalle
  • Alejio Hounié
  • Guido Magri
  • Joaquín Ramírez
  • Ramón Martínez
  • Sgt. Carlos Roque
  • Daniel Maspons
  • Juan Carlos Menéndez
  • Liliana Navarro Petraglia de Methol
  • Gustavo "Coco" Nicolich
  • Marcelo Pérez
  • Enrique Platero
  • Diego Storm
  • Arturo Nogueira
  • Rafael Echavarren

Our condolences go out to all who lost loved ones in the tragic 1972 accident.

Society of the Snow is now available to stream on Netflix.

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