Only player to survive Russian plane crash dies

September 12, 2011 - 4:35 AM
Russia Crash

Relatives of Belarusian ice hockey player Ruslan Salei, killed in Wednesday's plane crash near Yaroslavl, mourn during a funeral ceremony in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. The chartered Yak-42 jet crashed Wednesday into the banks of the Volga River moments after takeoff from an airport near Yaroslavl. The crash killed 43 people, including 36 players, coaches and staff of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team, many of whom were European national team and former NHL players. It was one of the worst aviation disasters ever in sports, shocking Russia and the world of hockey. The team had been heading to Minsk, Belarus to play its opening game of the Kontinental Hockey League season. (AP Photo/Dmitry Brushko)

MOSCOW (AP) — The only member of a top Russian hockey team to survive a plane crash that killed 44 people died Monday of his injuries in a Moscow hospital.

The Vishnevsky hospital said 26-year-old Alexander Galimov died of the severe burns that covered about 90 percent of his body, despite the best efforts of doctors in its burn unit, considered one of the best in Russia.

The crash of a chartered Yak-42 jet outside the western city of Yaroslavl on Wednesday took the lives of 37 players, coaches and staff of the local Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey club. The only other person to survive, flight crew member Alexander Sizov, was reportedly moved out of intensive care and into a general ward at Moscow's Sklifosovsky hospital, the RIA Novosti news agency reported Monday.

Unlike many other members of Lokomotiv who were European Union citizens and once played in the NHL, Galimov was a native of Yaroslavl and a product of its youth program.

His death is certain to be deeply mourned in the city, where the crash produced an outpouring of public grief. At rallies following the Sept. 7 crash, fans chanted "Galimov, live for the whole team!" and other slogans dedicated to him.

An estimated 100,000 people including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attended a memorial ceremony Saturday in the Lokomotiv ice arena.

While emotions were especially raw in Yaroslavl, where the team's consistently strong performance was a source of great pride, the crash shocked all of Russia and the international hockey community.

The team was heading to Minsk, Belarus, to play its opening game of the Kontinental Hockey League season when the three-engine plane crashed into the Volga River bank shortly after takeoff and burst into flames. Investigators say they have come to no conclusions yet about the cause of the crash.