A day after Bangalore homemaker V Ramya died in a skydiving accident in Tamil Nadu, the Salem police Friday arrested top executives of the Indian Skydiving and Parachute Association (ISPA) for not following the safety procedures.
Those arrested included ISPA executive secretary Ankita, retired naval officers G Mohan Rao and Rajesh, and instructor Aishwarya Yadav. Preliminary investigations revealed that neither safety procedures and equipment nor a ground paramedical team was in place at the skydiving venue in Omlur near Salem.
The 26-year-old Ramya, daughter of S Ramanathan and Usha from Kadangod village in Thrissur district of Kerala, and her husband, Vinod, 28, a Bangalore businessman, had celebrated their first wedding anniversary on January 23. According to Ramya’s relatives, the couple shared a common passion for adventure and often went trekking and camping.
Family friend Appu Nair said, “She loved adventurous activities. But we were not aware of her undergoing pilot training as reported in local media. We were told that Ramya had met with some accident. The gravity of the mishap was known much later.”
The couple reached the ISPA facility in Omlur on January 25 and received on-the-ground lessons on the first day of training. The next day, they jumped from 3,500 ft, only after which they were considered qualified to dive from a height of 10,000 ft, Vinod said.
“We were very excited. On January 30, we were confident about the parachute deployment and the course of action. To my horror, my wife’s parachute malfunctioned and she had to pay with her life,” Vinod said. “By 3.30 pm, it was all over.”
Vinod said he was appalled by the irresponsible actions of the ISPA staff, who absconded from the scene. “Co-participants and some villagers helped take my wife’s body to the hospital,” he said. According to police, the preliminary investigation leads them to believe that neither the safety protocol nor the equipment was in place.
“What is even more shocking is that there were no paramedical emergency crew at the spot. In fact, a regular ambulance was used to transfer the victim, and it was not equipped to handle critical cases,” a police officer said. He said that a trainer did not accompany Ramya during the free fall training from 10,000 ft.
The couple had signed a waiver when they had enrolled at the ISPA and legal experts are now looking into it to ascertain its validity. However, if there are any indications that the death was caused by negligence, then ISPA executives are likely to be held responsible, police said. Before her marriage, Ramya worked with Infosys in Mangalore for a couple of years. She moved to Bangalore last year after her marriage to Vinod. She was cremated at Salem on Friday, in the presence of scores of people from her village.
BJP leaders Prabhat Jha, Shahnawaz Hussain and Krishnapal Gujar also addressed a number of rallies.