On the morning of November 14, 1992, Annette Herfkens, a top Dutch banker (and one of the few female international bond traders on Wall Street), packed her luggage for a romantic getaway with her longtime fiance, Willem. At 6:25 that morning, Annette and Willem boarded the plane out of Ho Chi Minh City, with twenty-three other passengers and six crew members, excited to finally have a vacation together. Six minutes before landing, flying at speed of 300 miles per hour, the plane lost altitude and crashed along a mountain ridge in the jungle of Vietnam.
At first Annette heard the voices of other passengers, but soon they went quiet. Annette was the only survivor. For eight days she lay injured and alone, with only rainwater to sustain her. Presumed dead, her obituary made it into local newspapers. What followed is an incredible story of survival, mystery, and the endurance of spirit.
Even after surviving and learning to cope with her harrowing experience, Annette’s biggest life challenge began years later, when her son Maxi was diagnosed with autism. As she weathered the joys and challenges of raising Maxi, Annette often called upon the profound insights she learned during those eight days, viewing every turbulent event in her life with the unflinching optimism of a true survivor.
This is an inspiring account of one woman’s journey and perseverance, as a plane-crash survivor and even more so as a devoted mother to her autistic son, but also of discovering strength and beauty in unexpected places.
Annette Herfkens was born in Venezuela to Dutch parents. She was raised in The Netherlands, where she studied International Law at Leiden University. After completing an internship in Santiago de Chile, she became first female executive trainee for ING Bank to be stationed in New York. She then moved to Banco Santander in Madrid. She was promoted to Managing Director and seven years later sent to New York, where she currently lives with her family.