Keith Stansell, an American intelligence analyst and ex-Marine who was held hostage in the jungles of Colombia for more than five years, says that fellow hostage Ingrid Betancourt was "the most disgusting human being I've ever encountered."
Betancourt, one of the most famous and admired political prisoners in the world, had been campaigning for president of Colombia in 2002 when she was kidnapped.
Stansell was one of three Americans taken prisoner when their single-engine plane lost power and plummeted into the Colombian rainforest, Feb. 13, 2003.
On the plane with Stansell, 38, was intelligence analyst Marc Gonsalves, 30, and 49-year-old Thomas Howes, a career pilot on one of the last flights of his tour. All were private contractors hired by the U.S. government to help fight the Colombian drug war.
"I didn't think we'd ever live through it," Stansell told "20/20" co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas. "We were just basically saying goodbye on the way down."
The jungle they were careening toward was both beautiful and deadly. Hidden in the deep foliage was a guerrilla army called the FARC -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. In their 45-year battle with the Colombian government, one of their favorite tools of terror was kidnapping people to either kill them or hold them hostage. From the ground, the FARC watched as the plane dropped out of the sky and crashed in a small clearing.
"It was a hard hit," said Gonsalves. "And then it was like a short bounce and it hit again. And on the second impact the right side of the fuselage of the airplane just ripped open."
"It was like being inside a sardine can that opens up," said Stansell. "I mean, it was pretty nasty."
Against all odds and despite serious injuries, everyone in the Cessna survived the crash. Stansell said he knew they were in FARC territory, but "we didn't understand that we had crashed in the middle of a few hundred FARC."
As the men struggled to free themselves from the wreckage, dazed and in shock from the crash, dozens of armed fighters emerged from the jungle and surrounded them. Stansell, Gonsalves and Howes would be held hostage for more than five years in hellish rebel camps.
"It was like a challenge," Howes said. "How much pain can you put up with? How much exhaustion can you put up with?
"I was probably the one that had the least hope at times of the three of us and I was to the point where I would have been -- preferred to have a -- to be shot," he said. "Let's end this now."
Within seconds of their capture, the three survivors were herded at gunpoint into the jungle, out of sight of rescuers responding to a mayday call placed by Stansell during the crash.
"We had aircraft overhead and a rescue mission overhead in something like 15 minutes," said William Brownfield, current U.S. ambassador to Colombia. "So, the initial reaction was considerable frustration, that we got there so fast and we could not get them out."
The three captives were forced to begin a journey deep into the jungle, marching up to 22 hours a day for more than three weeks.
"It was a death march," said Stansell. "I had something wrong, maybe some internal injuries in my stomach and I couldn't eat. I went for a week without eating."