She plummeted to the ground as horrified onlookers watched, but she survived the impact of the fall, apparently because of her slight build and because she landed on recently plowed soft ground. Her injuries included a broken spine, internal injuries, and fractures to her ribs and pelvis.
At the trial, it emerged that Sergeant Cilliers had taken his wife’s parachute into a bathroom a day before the jump, sabotaged it and then placed it in a locker so that only she would use it.
As an experienced parachutist, Victoria Cilliers immediately realized when she jumped that something was wrong. “It just didn’t feel right. The lines were twisted. I was spinning,” she said.
“Those at the scene immediately realized that something was seriously wrong with her reserve parachute,” said Michael Bowes, a lawyer for the prosecution. “Two vital pieces of equipment which fasten the parachute harness were missing. Their absence inevitably meant the reserve parachute would fail and would send her spinning to the ground.”
Leading up to that episode was a tale of infidelity, debts and deceit. According to testimony at the trial, the police discovered that Sergeant Cilliers was having affairs with two women — one of them a former wife, Carly Cilliers, and the other an Austrian lover, Stefanie Goller, whom he had met via a dating app.