- FCO/The Cutland family
- The Cambridge University student who opened a plane door and fell to her death above Madagascar was hallucinating at the time, her family told MailOnline.
- Alana Cutland’s uncle, Lester Riley, told the publication that she “had taken ill,” and the family thinks she was suffering an adverse reaction to drugs of some kind.
- The 19-year-old was on her way to see a doctor and fly back to the UK when she fell from the plane, Riley said.
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The Cambridge University student who forced open a plane door and fell to her death above Madagascar was hallucinating at the time, her family told MailOnline.
Alana Cutland, 19, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, forced her way out of a light aircraft and “intentionally fell” to her death, a local police chief, Sinola Nomenjahary, told Britain’s Sun newspaper
Cutland was in the country on a research trip when she took the flight, where she reportedly fought off fellow passenger Ruth Johnson, 51, and the pilot, who were both trying to keep her in the plane.
Her parents and local police confirmed her death.
Now, the teen’s uncle has said the family believe she was suffering an adverse reaction to drugs of some kind.
“She had taken ill after being there for a few days and when she spoke to her mother on the phone two days before the accident she was mumbling and sounded pretty incoherent,” retired electrician Lester Riley, 68, told the Mail Online.
“We think she had suffered a severe reaction to some drugs but not anti-malaria ones because she had taken those on her trip last year to China without any side effects.”
Riley said Cutland’s mother, Alison Cutland, was “frantic” after hearing from her daughter. Riley said she insisted Alan see a doctor, cut her trip short, and return home to the UK.
Alison thought “there was something wrong with her,” according to Riley.
The Natural Sciences student was due to return to Cambridge to commence the third year of her degree in the fall. Her trip to Madagascar was meant to be for six weeks to research an endangered species of crab.
The plane incident occurred on Thursday July 25, eight days into the trip.
Riley said that Cutland, who also has a 17-year-old brother, was heading back, as her mother suggested, when she died.
“She was on a plane with a pilot and a British woman she had met on the trip and they were heading to a town so she could go to hospital and be treated before being declared fit to fly home,” Cutland’s uncle said.
According to local police, Cutland jumped from the plane around 15 minutes after it had taken off from a remote research base in Anjajavy, in the north of the island. They say it is unclear why she jumped.
Investigators are currently looking into whether Cutland could have been experiencing an adverse reaction to drugs, MailOnline reported.
- FCO/The Cutland family
“What happened, the family believe, was a tragic accident, not a suicide, and we are utterly heartbroken,” Riley said.
“Alana had everything to live for, nothing to die for, and we don’t think for a moment she deliberately took her own life.
“She was hallucinating, she was unwell, something had made her ill, it must have been a reaction to medication.”
Riley added that his niece had never had any mental-health problems in the past.
Nomenjahary, the police chief, also told The Sun newspaper that Cutland had suffered five “paranoia attacks” during the trip.
Cutland’s body is yet to be found, but police said “she dropped into a zone which is full of … carnivorous fossa felines,” which are the largest carnivorous mammals in Madagascar.
Her parents, both 63, said in a statement released by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office that they were “heartbroken at the loss of our wonderful, beautiful daughter.”
“Our daughter Alana was a bright, independent young woman, who was loved and admired by all those that knew her,” they said.
“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.”