Cambridge University student Alana Cutland, 19, fell to her death from a light aircraft above Madagascar
Cambridge University student Alana Cutland, 19, broke open an airplane door and jumped to her death in Madagascar while fighting off her friend’s desperate attempts to save her, police said.
The second-year Biological Natural Sciences student, from Milton Keynes, died after plunging 5,000ft from the plane while on a study trip.
Her friend and fellow British tourist Ruth Johnson battled to save her for several minutes.
Ruth and the pilot both grabbed onto Alana’s leg to try and keep her inside the plane as it soared above the east African country.
However, Alana managed to free herself from their ‘exhausted’ grip and jumped to her death.
Police revealed that the student had suffered five ‘paranoia attacks’ while on the ‘failed’ research trip, which she had funded herself.
A chilling photo recreating the struggle to stop Alana from jumping was shared by authorities.
Local police chief Sinola Nomenjahary told how they had recreated the scene after taking statements from Ms Johnson and the pilot.
He said: ‘The Cessna C168 aircraft was taking off from Anjajavy with three people aboard, including Ms Johnson, Alana and the pilot.
Authorities shared this photo, a recreation of Ruth Johnson and the pilot’s attempts to save Alana and stop her from jumping out. She fell from the Cessna-style light aircraft while it was above the east African country, about ten minutes after take-off
‘After 10 minutes of flight, Alana undid her seatbelt 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.
‘Alana then intentionally fell from an aircraft at 1130 meters above sea level.
‘She dropped into a zone which is full of with carnivorous Fossa felines.’
Alana was travelling back from a research trip to a remote lodge in Anjajavy where she studied a rare species of crabs.
Local reports also claimed that Alana and her parents had several intense and agitated discussions on the phone in the days leading up to her death.
Alana had been due to stay on the research trip for six weeks, but cut it short after just eight days following the conversations with her parents Alison and Neil Cutland, both 63.
She was due to be flying home when she jumped from the aircraft.
It is feared that her body may never be found after it landed in an area filled with carnivorous wild animals.
Alana’s family say they ‘are heartbroken at the loss of our wonderful, beautiful daughter, who lit up every room she walked in to’.
Alana was thought to be travelling back from a research trip to the remote area of Anjajavy
Police are now investigating reports that she opened the plane’s door and jumped to her death
Police have also interviewed management at the hotel, as well as Ruth and the pilot while also searching Alana’s luggage.
They have also read through her documents and messages.
The police chief added: ‘The victim is a student who has failed on research work and was asking for a lot of moral support.
‘She had personally financed her research and had suffered a paranoia attack five times.
‘The witnesses claimed that Alana had difficulty managing her private life and her research.
‘She was in regular contact by email with her parents to whom she receives moral support. She did not handle her stresses well.
‘On Ms Johnson’s departure day Alana’s parents agreed that Alana should interrupted her research fly with Ms Johnson.’
Alana’s family have asked for privacy following her death and paid tribute to the 19-year-old
She was in the east African country for a university research trip to complement her studies
Alana was in the country for a university research trip and one other passenger was in the aircraft with her, along with the pilot
She was in the country for a university research trip to complement her studies and one other passenger was in the aircraft with her, along with the pilot.
The internship is understood to have been undertaken privately and was not a Cambridge University study trip.
Alana’s family have asked for privacy following her death.
Their statement said: ‘Our daughter Alana was a bright, independent young woman, who was loved and admired by all those that knew her.
‘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.
One local report suggested the student had forced open the plane door in front of the horrified pilot and another passenger
‘Alana grasped every opportunity that was offered to her with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure, always seeking to extend her knowledge and experience in the best ways possible.
‘She was particularly excited to be embarking on the next stage of her education, on an internship in Madagascar complementing her studies in Natural Sciences.
‘Alana was also a talented dancer and embraced the more creative side of her talents with joy and commitment.
‘Her thirst for discovering more of the world always ensured she made the most of every second of her action-packed young life.
‘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.’
A friend told the Sun: ‘She was amazing, one of the most beautiful and pure girls I’ve ever known – inside and out.
‘The whole thing has been a nightmare for her family and friends back home in the UK.
Alice Cutland celebrating after she had passed her driving test in January 2017. Her family have paid tribute to her
Her family said in a statement: ‘Our daughter Alana was a bright, independent young woman, who was loved and admired by all those that knew her’
Her family said that Alana was also a talented dancer and she was Vice President of the student-run society dance society Cutazz, of the University of Cambridge
Dr David Woodman, of Robinson College, Cambridge University, said in a statement: ‘Robinson College is deeply shocked by the news of Alana’s death. In her two years here, she made a huge contribution to many different aspects of life in the college’
As well as being a talented dancer, Alana was involved in the yoga and mindfulness society at university
‘We knew she was getting some sort of plane trip last week to study the seabed on a neighbouring island, but then contact went dead and we started to fear the worst.
‘Alana had so much going for her. She loved animals and nature and was over the moon to be going to Madagascar to pursue her passion.’
Dr David Woodman, of Robinson College, Cambridge University, said in a statement: ‘Robinson College is deeply shocked by the news of Alana’s death. In her two years here, she made a huge contribution to many different aspects of life in the college.
‘She will be sorely missed by us all. The college extends its sincerest condolences to Alana’s family at this extremely difficult time.’
Alana was involved in the yoga and mindfulness society at the college, according to its website.
She was also a talented dancer and Vice President of the student-run dance society Cutazz, at Cambridge University.
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