Army sergeant arrested after wife's parachute failed to open

Emile Cilliers was questioned by police after his skydiving wife spun 4,000ft to the ground with a barely-opened parachute

Sunday 10 May 2015 15:17

A man arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after his wife's parachute failed to open during a skydive is a British Army sergeant.

South African-born Emile Cilliers, 35, was questioned by police last week after his wife, Victoria, plummeted 4,000 feet to the ground.

The experienced 39-year-old parachutist “miraculously survived” but sustained multiple serious injuries following what should have been a “routine” jump above Salisbury Plain on April 5, Wiltshire Police said.

Her husband, an instructor with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps attached to the Royal Engineers, was arrested for attempted murder and released on bail last week.

Police described how Mrs Cilliers' main parachute first failed to deploy, while her reserve parachute also failed but opened just enough to slow her descent from a fatal velocity before she crashed to the ground.

The concerned parachute club at Netheravon Airfield alerted police to the rarity of the incident a day later.

Detective Inspector Paul Franklin said: “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.

”However, we were alerted to concerns over what had happened by the parachute club and as a result instigated an investigation.

“This woman survived this fall miraculously but despite her experience she very nearly lost her life.”

Mrs Cilliers, from Amesbury in Wiltshere, was taken to Southampton General Hospital with “multiple serious injuries” after her impact and is now recovering at home, police said.

Mr Franklin added that while police have spoken to many members of the parachute club, they still want any other witnesses to the incident to come forward.

Press Association

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