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By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Police are investigating the death of a tourist who was killed on Sunday when she fell from an airborne paraglider above São Conrado beach, in the city’s Zona Sul (South Zone). The victim was 24-year-old Brazilian woman, Priscilla Boliveira, sister of the actor Boliveira Fabricio, who starred in Tropa de Elite 2 (Elite Troop 2).

Paragliding over Rio's São Conrado is a popular tourist activity, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Paragliding over Rio's São Conrado is a popular tourist activity, photo by Hugo Camerini.

According to rescue workers, the woman slipped out of the safety harness before falling around 30m to the sand, where she died instantly.

Boliveira was flying with an instructor, Alan Figueiredo who is being investigated for manslaughter and negligence.

Inspector Fabio Barucke told O Globo newspaper, “The first possibility is that some kind of equipment failure occurred, possibly indicating neglect. The second is that the instructor made an error of judgement at the moment he tightened the safety harness.”

Witness testimonies, including that of the instructor himself, say that the safety harness was loose before take off, and that three of the glider’s security buckles were not working.

Boliveira was on holiday in Rio from her home in Salvador when she decided to take part in the popular tourist activity, renowned for affording spectacular views of the city.

This is the second accident to hit the recreational gliding community in Rio this year. The first was in January at Pedra Bonita, when there were no serious injuries.

Every year nearly 23,000 people strap themselves into a hang glider or paraglider in Rio. Initial flights are always done as “tandem” with an instructor.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I would like to defend the pilots of Asa Delta who took myself and 2 of my friends for a flight during carnival 2011. There was an opportunity to observe other flights.There was pre flight training, We had a harness safety check by the pilot as well as by ground support crew.We all had an awesome experience of the spectacular Rio beauty.It was an experience that I would love to repeat at the next opportunity.It is unfortunate that this tragedy occurred that will have an impact on the pilots whose livelihoods depend on the sport.

  2. Incidents of this nature occur globally with a sickening regularity and I feel for the victims and their relatives. However, the pilots are usually conscientious and well aware of the frightful implications of failure to ensure the security of their passengers. The notwithstanding, both pilots and passengers occasionally fall out…

    The issue is not simply that of pilot training or of assiduousness, but is a reflection of one of the inherent weaknesses of the human being. We all perform checks throughout our day-to-day lives: is the car approaching us going to hit us if we pull out?; will the next wave wash away our beach towels?; etc. A failure in most of these checks will be of little consequence, occasionally the outcome will be tragic. The problem is that we will often see that which we expect to see, rather than observing the approaching motorcycle or the unsecured safety harness.

    This well understood propensity to err is inherent in the human condition and therefore harnesses and any other safety critical equipment must be designed to ensure that the consequences of error are minimised. For example, paragliding harnesses have been available for some time featuring a ‘Safe-T’ bar leg strap arrangement which makes it almost impossible to secure oneself to the harness such that one will remain attached until airborne, unless one is attached securely enough not to fall free…

    Yes, like the captain of a ship, final responsibility resides with the pilot, but not all of the blame resides there. Some must be with the designer of the human being with it’s inherent inclination to see that which is expected rather than the truth of the situation.

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