Alana Cutland, a Cambridge University student, reportedly overpowered passengers on a lightweight plane and jumped to her death on a flight home from Madagascar.
According to The Sun, Cutland was on an academic trip to the island to study a rare species of crab. While in Madagascar, the student was said to be dealing with panic attacks while on the unsuccessful self-funded research trip.
The Cambridge student fought with the other passenger on board, Ruth Johnson, and the pilot as she opened the door, trying to jump. The plane was said to be “rocking through the air” as the pilot and Johnson fought with Cutland, who was attempting to jump.
Police reported that Cutland, 19, managed to free herself from the “exhausted” grip of her attempted rescuers and jumped into the Analalava region. A search has been launched for her body, but due to the terrain of the remote location, they fear they will never find her.
Local police chief Sinola Nomenjahary took statements from Johnson and the pilot who helped to create a recreation of what happened on the plane.
“The Cessna C168 aircraft was taking off from Anjajavy with three people aboard, including Ms. Johnson, Alana and the pilot. After 10 minutes of flight, Alana undid her seat belt and unlocked the right door of the plane and tried to get out. Ms Johnson fought for five minutes trying to hold her, but when she was exhausted and out of breath she let go.”
I have been asked by several concerned U.K. colleagues to comment on the possible role of mefloquine in the tragic case of Alana Cutland, who as described in this story, fell to her death after jumping from a plane in Africa after a prolonged struggle. https://t.co/UOUdCELe2R
— Dr. Remington Nevin (@RemingtonNevin) August 1, 2019
Chief Nomenjahary revealed that Cutland then intentionally fell from an aircraft at 1130 meters above sea level into an area that is full of “carnivorous Fossa felines.”
Telegraph is reporting that Ruth Johnson was sent to the island to bring Cutland home after her parents grew concerned about her “state of mind.” The media outlet quoted Nomenjahary as saying that Cutland was struggling with a mental health crisis, and her parents were concerned.
“It appears she was having difficulty with her work and was suffering from anxiety. The witnesses said that Alana had difficulty managing her private life and her research. Her SMS, email and telephone contact with her parents indicated she was going through a very difficult psychological period.”
Cutland was entering her second year at Cambridge and had planned to spend six weeks in Madagascar on the research project which was cut short after eight days when her parents grew concerned and hired a light plane to bring their daughter home.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.