SA man arrested after wife’s skydiving fall

By Petro-Anne Vlok
11 May 2015

A South African man living in the UK is being accused of tampering with his wife’s parachute, causing her to plunge towards the ground. Miraculously she survived, but was seriously injured.

Last Easter weekend Victoria Cilliers (39), an experienced skydiver, went on a solo jump in Salisbury Plain in England, but both her main and reserve chute failed to open properly.

She hit the ground at almost 50 km per hour. Her backup chute opened partially, which helped her survive the long fall. Being an old hand at skydiving, Victoria was also able to slow her decent and avoid a concrete road, landing in a field. She suffered spinal injuries, a broken leg, broken ribs and a broken collarbone, and spent three weeks in hospital.

“We were alerted to concerns over what had happened by the parachute club and as a result instigated an investigation,” detective inspector Paul Franklin from the Wiltshire Police told British media. “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.”

Her husband Emile Cilliers (35), a South African-born sergeant with the British Army, was recently arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after police discovered that crucial parts of the parachute, called slinks or soft-links, were missing from both the main and reserve chute. Without them, a parachute won’t work properly.

Victoria and Emile were married in South Africa in 2011 and have two children, Lily (3) and baby son Ethan. According to British media, Victoria told friends that Emile moved out of their family home after her fall.


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