Cambridge University student jumps to her death from the plane in Madagascar
A 19-year-old Cambridge University student — reportedly distressed over her “failed” research project — jumped to her death from a small airplane during a biology internship in Madagascar.
Alana Cutland was on her way back home after abruptly cutting short her planned six-week research trip when she suddenly plunged more than 3,600 feet from a small Cessna plane into a remote forest in the island country last Thursday, according to The Sun.
Two other passengers — British tourist Ruth Johnson and the pilot of the Cessna C168 — were aboard the aircraft and tried in vain to prevent Cutland’s “intentional fall.”
The pilot desperately clung to Cutland’s leg, but the student managed to free herself, the report said.
Cutland — who funded the trip herself — landed in a section of the country that is “full of carnivorous fossa felines,” an indigenous predator related to the mongoose, according to local police chief Sinola Nomenjahary.
The search for Cutland in the Analalava region has come up empty.
Nomenjahary said Cutland, who was studying a rare species of crabs, was stressed out and suffered five panic attacks during her truncated eight-day stay in Madagascar.
“The victim is a student who has failed on research work and was asking for a lot of moral support,” said Nomenjahary.
“She was in regular contact by email with her parents [from] whom she receives moral support. She did not handle her stresses well.”
Cutland ultimately decided to head back home after speaking with her parents, Alison and Neil Cutland, both 63.
The teenager’s grieving parents released a statement, saying in part, “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.”
“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.”