A traffic jam prevented this man from boarding the doomed Lion Air flight: 'I just have to be grateful'

A man named Sony Setiawan (center) was late to the airport, missing Lion Air flight JT 610 which then crashed into the Java Sea. (Photo: Getty Images)

A man running late to the airport is grateful to have missed a Lion Air flight that crashed into the Java Sea carrying 189 passengers and crew.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP)Sony Setiawan, an employee of the Indonesian finance ministry, got stuck in traffic Monday morning, causing him to arrive more than three hours late to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta. 

“I usually take (flight) JT610 — my friends and I always take this plane,” Setiawan told the news agency. “I don’t know why the traffic at the toll road was so bad. I usually arrive in Jakarta at 3 a.m., but this morning I arrived at the airport at 6:20 a.m. and I missed the flight.” 

An undergarment floats in the area where a Lion Air flight crashed into the Java Sea. (Photo: Getty)

Setiawan was scheduled to board the hour-long flight to Pangkal Pinang, along with the 181 passengers, which included three children and eight crew members. He only learned about the crash after the flight he subsequently landed in Pangkal Pinang. “My family was in shock and my mother cried, but I told them I was safe, so I just have to be grateful,” Setiawan told AFP.

According to CNN, 13 minutes into Lion Air flight, the aircraft, a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 that had been operating for less than three months, disappeared from radar. So far, six bodies have been rescued from the water and officials are not hopeful there are survivors. 

“My prediction is that no one survived because we only managed to retrieve body parts. It has been a few hours since the crash so it is possible all 189 people were killed,” Bambang Suryo Aji, of the search-and-rescue government agency Basarnas, said in a news conference, according to CNN. Additionally, 21 body bags containing human remains and crash debris were sent to a local hospital for identification. 

Lion Air flight JT 610 crashed into the Java Sea on Monday. (Photo: Getty)

Lion Air CEO Edward Sirait told reporters that the night before the crash, the same plane experienced problems on a flight from Denpasar to Jakarta; however, after a repair, the issues were resolved. Along with other airlines, Lion Air was also placed on a European Union list of “banned air carriers” due to safety concerns in 2007 and removed in 2016.

“The first time I heard I cried,” Setiawan said, according to CBS News. “I know my friends were on that flight.”

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