Dutch Cyclist for Terengganu Team Escapes Death Twice from Not Boarding MH17 and MH370

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“I could have taken that one [MH17] just as easily. It’s inconceivable. I am very sorry for the passengers and their families, yet I am very pleased I’m unharmed,” said Maarten De Jonge to RTV Oost, a Dutch public broadcaster, after discovering that he had been due to travel on Malaysian Airlines’ Kuala Lumpur-bound flight MH17 from Amsterdam.

MH17 was reportedly struck by a surface-to-air missile near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine along the Russia-Ukraine border last Thursday leaving no survivors; less than five months after the ill-fated disappearance of MH370.  

Having changed his flight plans at the last minute, De Jonge added that he actually spoke to some of the passengers before they boarded the plane. According to the 29-year-old cyclist, he changed his MH17 ticket from July 17 to another date because he wanted to save money on cheaper airfare by flying through Frankfurt instead. De Jonge is part of the Terengganu Cycling Team based in Malaysia and was returning to Kuala Lumpur from competing in last month’s National Championship Road Race in his native Holland, in which he placed 35th.

“It’s hard to believe. I grieve for the passengers and their families but I’m grateful that I escaped the flight.”

De Jonge, who hails from Oldenzaal, was also supposed to be on flight MH370 flying to Taiwan with a stopover in Beijing. But he switched his ticket to avoid the stopover.

Despite his close call with death, the professional cyclist said that the unforeseen tragedy would not deter him from flying to Malaysia later this week, even while his parents had expressed concern. “You should try not to worry too much because then you won’t get anywhere. I have been lucky twice, this will be the third time as well,” De Jonge said.

De Jonge has eventually decided not to speak publicly about his good fortune or give further interviews out of respect for the deceased of the two tragedies. He felt that the media coverage should be concentrated on the victims and their affected families.  “I’m frankly overwhelmed by the number of requests,” De Jonge said in a translated statement on his website. “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. From reverence for the victims and their families, I do not think it [is] appropriate to tell my story.”

Tweeting about his remarkable stroke of luck, De Jonge said: “Had I departed today, then…” He also added (later on in his website): “How happy I am for myself and my family that I was on this flight and did not take it the last moment


Ukrainian authorities believe that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists. Those responsible for downing the jet have yet to be identified, with Russian and Ukrainian authorities blaming each other. Meanwhile, Beijing-bound Flight MH370 went missing from radar on March 8 after taking off from the KL International Airport.

According to Slate magazine, there are some holes to this story. Apaprently, there is no evidence that De Jonge actually bought these flight tickets. In fact, it is possible he may have only considered taking these flights. Read Slate’s story here.


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