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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Emotional funeral of mother who saved her daughter from stampede in El Salvador

With religious chants, some 200 Salvadorans said goodbye Monday in an emotional funeral to Leslie Fermán Murcia, a fan of the Alianza club, who with her life protected her daughter from the stampede inside the Cuscatlán stadium in which twelve people died.

The fateful night Leslie, 34 years old, protected her 14 year old daughter as far as she could with her body, and before her death she shouted for help to save her.

“Leslie was going (to the stadium) for fun and to enjoy time with her daughter to teach my niece her passion for sports, but we never imagined that such a misfortune would happen,” Yajaira Fermán Murcia, sister of the deceased, told AFP.

After being rescued and due to multiple traumatisms, Leslie’s daughter was admitted to hospital by the rescue brigades. Her most severe injury was to her right foot, so at the funeral the minor was carried in her arms by members of her family.

This Monday, a hearse moved the white coffin from the Beatriz community to a cemetery in Ciudad Delgado, in the northeastern outskirts of San Salvador.

Leslie also leaves behind a four-year-old orphan.

The tragedy that plunged El Salvador into mourning occurred on Saturday, 10 minutes before the start of the quarter-final match of the local soccer tournament between Alianza and FAS clubs.

A lifelong Aliancista

Since Sunday night, Alianza’s supporters have placed an “altar” with flowers and candles on a wall of the Cuscatlán stadium to pay tribute to the victims, and have also attended the funeral of the victims.

Around Leslie’s coffin surrounded by flowers, the Alianza supporters sang and thanked her for her loyalty to the club.

“Leslie was a lifelong Alianza fan, her death has marked us a lot (…) We will continue to be aliancistas because the team has nothing to do with it,” commented Yajaira.

“I think that (the tragedy) was an oversight by the authorities and the fans who were in order, and I don’t know what happened to them, they got desperate because the game had started,” she said.

This Monday in the same Beatriz community of Ciudad Delgado, Nestor Alas, another of the fatal victims, was held a wake. Alianza players also decided to attend the various funeral services to express “their condolences,” defender Henry Romero, 31, told AFP.

“It is a difficult moment that we have all lived through. We lived it in the stadium, unfortunately (the tragedy) happened and we have to give a lot of strength and fortitude to the family,” said Romero as he participated in Leslie’s funeral.

Looking to the future, according to Romero, “we have to be careful so that such things do not happen again because in the end it is the common fan who is affected by what we have experienced”.

Farewell applause

In the cemetery of Ciudad Delgado, the evangelical pastor Melvin Castro, stood in front of the coffin where he prayed for Leslie’s family to “have strength” to cope with their loss.

Under a scorching sun and a light breeze, those present, many wearing Alianza’s white t-shirts, accompanied the pastor with some songs.

At the close of the ceremony Castro asked for “a round of applause” after which Leslie was buried. The sports authorities and the Attorney General’s Office -separately- are investigating the possible causes of the deadly human avalanche in the stadium.

The attorney general, Rodolfo Delgado, assured on Twitter that the investigation “is advancing”. “Our mission is to do justice on behalf of the victims,” he tweeted.

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