A South African-born British soldier was arrested recently after he allegedly planned his wife’s death by tampering with her parachute when sky diving. The woman was almost killed when both the main and reserve parachutes failed to open during a jump.
While the incident happened on Easter Sunday, police in Wiltshire, England, arrested the woman’s husband this week following concerns raised by the parachute club that the husband may have planned his wife’s death.
The husband, Sergeant Emile Cilliers, 35, is an instructor with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps attached to the Royal Engineers in England but used to live in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, in South Africa.
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When Victoria Cilliers jumped from the plane close to the Netheravon airfield, both the main and reserve parachutes failed to open. However, she “miraculously” survived the fall, despite hitting the ground at 45km/h.
Victoria sustained multiple injuries, including broken ribs and collar bone, a broken leg, and damage to her spine, but of course it could have been much worse.
The Daily Mail reports that Victoria Cilliers told friends after the incident that her husband had moved out of the house. The couple had married in South Africa in 2011 and have two children, Lily, 3, and baby son Ethan, born just five weeks before the parachuting accident.
While allegations are that her husband planned his wife’s death, Victoria apparently posted on Facebook that she doesn’t know where to go from here and has “no idea where to start.”
“It is a hundred times harder as I am housebound and cannot care independently for my children due to my current injuries. I have had a lot of support from the police/medical chain/social work but I really need friends, too.”
According to sources, Victoria Cilliers had not been able to use her personal parachute on the day of the fall as it had not been inspected for around six months.
Because of this, she had to use an army parachute, taken from the stores at Netheravon airfield, which had apparently been booked out for her by her husband the day before the jump. This has added to the suspicion that Emile Cilliers planned his wife’s death by tampering with the parachute.
Reportedly, the problem with the parachutes was due to integral parts being missing. Those parts, known as slinks, apparently connect the jumper’s harness to the canopy. The slinks were missing from both the main and the reserve parachute.
Times Live reports that Victoria is an experienced parachutist and apparently jumped alone that day from a Cessna Caravan light aircraft.
According to witnesses on the ground, Victoria deployed her main chute at around one kilometer above the ground, but it failed to open properly. When this happened, she went into a spin, or what is dubbed by sky divers to be “going down the plughole.”
She immediately jettisoned the main chute and activated the reserve chute, which regrettably also failed to fully open.
As an experienced parachutist, she was then able to slow the speed of her descent from 160km/h to approximately 45km/h and also managed to move away from a tarred road below her, enabling her to crash-land into a softer, freshly-plowed field.
From there, Victoria was taken to a Southampton hospital where she remained for three weeks.
Times Live is a South African news website and quoted Graham Field, a safety officer at Rustenburg Skydiving Club in South Africa as saying it was “odd” for slinks to be missing from a parachute.
“They can be rigged incorrectly and are not difficult to remove.
“Someone packing the main chute would have noticed that the slinks were missing.”
However, he did add that removing the slinks from the reserve parachute is actually far more difficult to do.
Since his arrest following suspicions that he planned his wife’s death, Emile Cilliers has now been released on bail.
Army Sergeant Held After Wife’s Parachute Fails http://t.co/KFfrmPOtwn Emile Cilliers is questioned by police after his wife Victoria plu…
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According to Detective Inspector Paul Franklin, who is leading the case, they need people who witnessed the incident, or who know what happened to the missing slinks, to please come forward.
“This woman would have been dead if her ‘chute hadn’t partially opened.
“This meant her descent was slowed enough for her to survive the fall.”
Meanwhile, Victoria Cilliers remains in a stable condition at home with multiple fractures.
In related news, the Inquisitr reported on the case of a pastor who also planned his wife’s death in order to be with his gay lover.
[Image: CC BY 2.0 Kuba Bożanowski]