Student Falls Out Of A Plane Door After Forcing It Open Mid-Flight
By Parker Diakite
A Cambridge University student described as a “bright, independent young woman,” died last week after forcing the door of a small plane open mid-flight and intentionally “falling out” as they flew over Madagascar.
Alana Cutland, 19, was on the African Island for a six-week research internship for her natural science class.
Eight days into the trip, Cutland’s parents began to worry about her state of mind, so they sent a family friend to the island to bring their daughter home.
Moments after takeoff, Cutland reportedly unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the door of the Cessna aircraft before falling 5,000 feet to her death, as reported in The Telegraph.
Spinola Nomenjanahary, the local chief of police, told the media outlet, “Ruth Johnson struggled for several minutes to try and stop her. The pilot also tried to pull her back, but they grew exhausted and Alana managed to fight clear of them and fall out of the door.”
Nomenjanahary said Cutland was studying endangered crabs on the Indian Ocean where she may have experienced difficulties with completing her research and possibly suffering from anxiety.
“Her SMS, email and telephone contact with her parents indicated she was going through a very difficult psychological period,” he stated. “The witnesses said that Alana had difficulty managing her private life and her research.”
A preliminary investigation by local police suggests that the incident could be related to the anti-malaria medicine Cutland was taking. Doxycycline and Lariam were found in the student’s luggage. Lariam has been previously linked to a number of cases of attempted suicides, according to the FDA.
Cutland’s body has not yet been discovered as authorities struggle to locate her remains due to “dense vegetation.”
“We are heartbroken at the loss of our wonderful, beautiful daughter, who lit up every room she walked in to and made people smile just by being there,” her parents said in a statement. “She was always so kind and supportive to her family and friends, which resulted in her having a very special connection with a wide network of people from all walks of her life, who we know will miss her dearly.”