'Society of the Snow' narrator: Why it's significant this person was chosen to tell the story

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“Society of the Snow” has put a renewed interest in the harrowing saga of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, the flight carrying 45 people that crashed in the Andes Mountains in 1972 while heading from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Santiago, Chile.

A total of 16 people survived after 72 days in the snow, while they endured avalanches, harsh cold, starvation and the decision to eat those who had died.

Twelve people died as a result of the crash, while another 17 would die at various points afterward. Sixteen people wound up being rescued.

Nearly half of the passengers played on the Old Christians Club amateur rugby team, while others were their friends and family. One of the men who on the plane was Numa Turcatti. Enzo Vogrincic portrays Turcatti in “Society of the Snow,” who serves as the film’s narrator.

Who was Numa Turcatti?

Turcatti did not play on the team. He was friends with Pancho Delgado, one of the other people onboard who survived the crash and wound up among the survivors.

Enzo Vogrincic as Numa Turcatti 
Enzo Vogrincic as Numa Turcatti in

What role does Turcatti play in 'Society of the Snow'?

Turcatti is depicted as gritty and caring. His character is based on accounts given in Pablo Vierci’s 2008 book “Society of the Snow,” which served as the basis of the movie.

“When I talk about Numa, I can’t help but cry,’” crash survivor Coche Inciarte, who died in 2023, said in the book.

“He’s the best person I’ve ever met in my life. However tenderly I cared for those who were losing heart, Numa did it much better because he never got tired. He was constantly aware of everyone else’s distress. He radiated peace, he never gave up, and when he came near me, I felt like Jesus Christ himself was among us, with such mercy and compassion in his eyes. I don’t know where he got his strength.”

Society of the Snow (Netflix)
Society of the Snow (Netflix)

What happened to Turcatti?

Numa Turcatti turned 25 on Oct. 30 while trapped under a blanket of snow from an avalanche. He sustained injuries on his leg from it, which ultimately led to his death Dec. 11. He was the last person to die before the rescue Dec. 22.

Turcatti was involved in earlier efforts to seek help and worked hard to help others.

“He was muscular, with a lean build, though not very tall,” Vierci wrote in “Society of the Snow.”

“Numa was also a very special person. He helped with the endless activities on the mountain from the very first, never thinking about the risk to himself, never calculating how much energy he was expending and how much energy he needed to keep for himself. He took part in the expedition on the fourth day, the suicidal expedition on the 11th day, shortly after hearing on the radio that the search had been called off.

“He always wanted to go on the final expeditions, even though an injury he had gotten during the avalanche had become infected, and he was growing weaker day by day, his body too defenceless to protect him any longer.”

During an initial expedition, Turcatti was horrified to find that “all you could see was more mountains,” Nando Parrado recalled in Vierci’s book. He told survivor Daniel Fernández he thought, after he expedition, "we will never be able to leave this place."

Society of the Snow (Netflix)
Society of the Snow (Netflix)

Turcatti seemed to think of his death as a sacrifice. He was found with a note clutched in his hands on which he'd written, "There is no greater love than giving your life for your friends."

Survivor Gustavo Zerbino said Turcatti's death helped spur the final expedition for help, which ultimately led to their rescue.

“Numa sacrificed himself to push the expeditionaries to leave, as if saying: ‘If I die now, most importantly I won’t suffer anymore. Besides that, I’ll motivate them to leave,” he said in the “Society of the Snow” book.

A photograph of the crashed plane and the survivors, shown at the Lircunlauta Museum, in San Fernando, Chile, Oct. 4, 2022. (Elvis Gonzalez / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock)
A photograph of the crashed plane and the survivors, shown at the Lircunlauta Museum, in San Fernando, Chile, Oct. 4, 2022. (Elvis Gonzalez / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock)

What is Turcatti’s legacy?

For those not familiar with the story, Turcatti’s death may come as a surprise to those watching “Society of the Snow.” While his father had previously died, some of the survivors visited his mother in Montevideo after they were rescued. His brother, Daniel, was on hand.

“Mama listened in total silence,” he recalled in the book “Society of the Snow.”

“They talked, one by one, while Mama was reliving her son’s life, touching the jagged edges of the hole that could never be filled. Suddenly she asked them, ‘Did Numa ever let you down?’ And to some extend she got the answer she wanted to hear. She was not surprised, but she was comforted to be able to confirm what she had always believed: the death of her son had not been in vain.”

Vogrincic, ahead of filming, visited Turcatti's home, where he was accompanied by Turcatti's surviving brother and sister.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com