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Vesna Vulovic, Survivor Of Mid-Air Plane Explosion And 33,000-Foot Fall, Dies At Age 66

30/12/2016 4:17 PM AEDT | Updated 31/12/2016 9:57 AM AEDT
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Vesna Vulovic, a Serbian woman who in 1972 survived a reported six-mile fall after the plane she was on exploded over Czechoslovakia, died last week at age 66, according to several media reports.

Vulovic holds the Guinness World Record for highest fall without a parachute ― a miraculous 33,333-foot plunge to Earth.

Vulovic was found dead in her Begrade apartment, The Washington Post and BBC report, citing Serbia’s state TV. The cause of death was not immediately known.

On Jan. 26, 1972, 23-year-old Vulovic was working as a flight attendant aboard a Yugoslav Airlines Douglas DC-9 when the plane ripped apart above the village of Srbska Kamenice. Unlike the other 27 passengers and crew, Vulovic survived, likely in part because the section of fuselage where she was trapped landed on a snowy, tree-covered hillside, the BBC reports. 

Officials suspected that JAT Yugoslav Flight 364 was brought down by explosives planted in a suitcase by a Croatian terrorist group. More than three decades later, however, two investigative reporters in Prague challenged that conclusion, claiming that documents showed the aircraft may have been mistakenly shot down by the Czechoslovak air force at a far lower altitude of around 2,500 feet. 

Regardless of the scenario, Vulovic survived the ordeal, despite suffering a crushed skull, snapped legs and three broken vertebrae. She eventually made a full recovery but never regained memory of the incident, as she explained in a 2002 interview with Green Light Limited. 

 As for people who have described her as lucky, Vulovic said they are mistaken.

“I’m not lucky,” she told Green Light. “If I were lucky I would never had this accident and my mother and father would be alive. The accident ruined their lives too.” 

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