The woman who holds the Guinness Book of Records for the highest fall survived without a parachute by a person has died in her apartment on Friday, December 23.
Serbian television reports that Vesna Vulovic died in her home. She would have turned 66 on January 3.
In January 26, 1972, flight attendant Vulovic was aboard the Yugoslav Airlines DC-9 flying over the mountain of what was then known as Czechoslovakia (now in the Czech Republic).
The plane was ripped apart by an explosion believed to have been caused by a bomb planted during a stopover in Copenhagen, Denmark. The suspicion was never proven and no arrests were made.
All the 27 passengers and crew died; save for Vulovic who was trapped by a food cart inside the plane’s tail section.
The fuselage carrying Vulovic plummeted from 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) into the ground in sub-zero temperature before landing on a steep, heavily-forested village.
It is believed that the trees and branches coupled with the thick covering of snow over that area helped cushioned the impact of the fuselage’s fall, thereby saving the Serbian stewardess’s life.
She was found the next day by a villager who followed her cry through the night.
Vulovic fell into coma for 10 days before fully recovering over the years. She suffered a fractured skull, two crushed vertebrae and a broken pelvis, ribs and legs but survived. She even regainED her employment at the airline a few years after.
In 1985, she entered the Guinness Book of Records for the highest fall survived by a person without a parachute.
However, in 2009, two investigative journalists theorized that the plane may have been mistakenly shot down by the Czechoslovak Air Force only a few meters from the ground, and not 10,000 as previously reported.
Nevertheless, Vulovic capitalized on her celebrity status to propagate her political causes. She eventually lost her desk job at the airline after protesting against then Yugoslav ruler Slobodan Milosevic in 1990.
Two days before this Christmas, she was found dead in her apartment in Belgrade, Serbia. The cause of her death is still unknown.