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Lions Roar : July 2014
was that fast—heavy noxious smoke was pouring in and chaos was overtaking the cabin. There was an emergency exit, but it was on the other side of all that smoke, and Weiss was already feeling the poisonous effects. She didn’t think she could make the jump to safety. “You’re going to go right through it,” Lokos told her. “You’ll be okay.” Lokos gave Weiss a push and intended to follow right after her, but his foot caught on something. “From that moment to when I landed on the ground outside the plane,” he says, “all of it is blocked out of my memory, which my trainer, nancy, ascribes to ‘the benevolent brain.’ But, clearly, I was on fire in that time.” The plane had crashed in an abandoned rice field. More than half of the passengers were spared serious injury. Two died. And then there was Lokos. A pair of teenaged boys tried to help him after he’d escaped the plane, but he was too big for them to handle. Two men—one of them the husband of the Californian woman—stepped in. “They had to drag me because I couldn’t walk,” Lokos says. “As I looked up, I saw the faces of all these spectators. They looked horrified.” Then he looked down and saw why. “There were large sheets of skin hanging off of me. But I have no memory of being scared by any of it; I was probably well into shock at that point.” It was then that Lokos turned to the man from California. “Those people look really scared,” he said. “I must look awful.” “Oh, no,” the man replied. “It’s really just like a bad sunburn. You’re fine.” It was a kind, comforting thing to say. But it was, of course, not true. Lokos was in grave danger. his legs were seriously burned, especially the ankles, which had been burned right to the bone. “Exactly how my hands got so damaged, I don’t know,” he says. “I never knew that I was close to dying. I never even thought I was injured, never thought about it. now, as my trauma therapist says, my body knew. I was on fire!” Lokos also suffered burns on his head and neck, and part of one ear was lost. “It now looks like I have a deep eye socket,” he says. “See that line of red? That’s how close the flames came to that eye, right to the socket. Two weeks ago Susanna asked me if I wanted to see the clothes that I was wearing at the time. They were just shreds.” “ The big thing that dominates my thinking is that there is this opportunity to reach people like I never could before.”