Vesna Vulovic, a Serbian flight attendant who miraculously survived a plunge from a reported 33,000 feet after her plane exploded in midair in 1972, was reported dead on Dec. 24. She was 66.
Serbia’s state TV said Ms. Vulovic was found dead by her friends in her apartment in Belgrade. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Ms. Vulovic was working as a Yugoslav Airlines flight attendant on Jan. 26, 1972, when the Douglas DC-9 airliner she was aboard blew up high above the snowy mountain ranges of Czechoslovakia. All 27 other passengers and crew aboard perished.
Ms. Vulovic entered the Guinness World Records in 1985 for the “highest fall survived without a parachute.”
It was suspected that a bomb was planted inside the jet during a scheduled stopover in Copenhagen, but no arrests were made.
Trapped in the plane’s tail cone, she plummeted to earth in sub-freezing temperatures and landed on a steep, heavily wooded slope near a village. The fuselage tumbled through pine branches and into a thick coating of snow, softening the impact and cushioning its descent down the hill, crash investigators said at the time.
Ms. Vulovic was rescued by a woodsman who followed her screams in the dark forest. She was rushed to a hospital, where she fell into a coma. She had a fractured skull, several crushed vertebrae and a broken pelvis, ribs and legs.
Initially paralyzed from the waist down, Ms. Vulovic eventually made a near-full recovery and returned to work for the airline in a desk job.
She never regained memory of the accident or her rescue. She told the Associated Press in an interview in 2008 that she could recall only greeting passengers before takeoff from the airport in Denmark — and then waking up in the hospital with her mother at her side.
An instant national heroine, Ms. Vulovic went on to put her celebrity at the service of political causes, protesting Slobodan Milosevic’s rule in the 1990s and later campaigning for liberal forces in elections.
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