A skydiving instructor from the United States and a British visitor died in a light plane crash close to a popular beach full of tourists in Puerto Vallarta.
According to local reports, Varsha Maisuria, 42, and her instructor Robin Ballachey, became entangled with the plane as they made a tandem jump on Thursday, May 7. Witnesses say the the pair dangled beneath the Cessna, which descended to a low height before crash landing into the sea about half a kilometer from the beach.
The pilot and two male passengers were able to extract themselves from the plane, which soon sank taking Maisuria and Ballachey with it. Their bodies have yet to be recovered although rescue teams are still searching, local authorities say.
Ballachey was a popular and passionate skydiving instructor from California who was spending the summer working in Vallarta. Maisuria, from London, worked in the British Foreign Office and signed up for her first-ever skydive with SkyDive Vallarta just two days before she was due to return home.
The Skydive Vallarta website says its instructors are certified by USPA, the most recognized skydive association in the world. “We work with equipment from SIGMA as it is world renowned for its safeness and quality. We have over 16,000 jumps and 18 years of experience,” it notes.
Skydive Vallarta says it “clearly covers” the security measures and safe practice procedures to be be followed during the jump. Jumps are made from an altitude of between 9,000 and 9,500 feet.
The site lists the cost of a jump as US$230.