Images of the rescue that killed Maria da Conceição Alves da Silva in Lajeado, RS
Maria was on the roof of her house when a military police officer placed her on a cable, lifted by a helicopter.
In the midst of the rescue, carried out on September 5, the cable broke and they both fell into the water – the police officer managed to save himself, but Maria’s death was confirmed on the same day. The accident is being investigated in a military police investigation. Read more below.
More than two months later, the family remains unanswered about the reason for the steel cable breaking. Maria da Conceição was born in the municipality of Bragança, in Pará, and was married to Milton Alves da Silva, a 63-year-old retired truck driver who crossed Brazil for his profession.
“She was a sweet creature. I look here, I live her here in the house. The table is hers, the carpet is hers”, laments the widower.
Milton had never seen the water from the Taquari River reach home with such force. According to the widower, the moment was desperate.
According to the retiree’s report, he started building furniture and appliances together with Maria, but nothing helped. Suddenly, it wasn’t just possessions that needed attention: he and his wife had to act and the solution was to climb onto the roof of the residence, the highest possible location.
“I blew the tile over the (Maria da) Conceição and she climbed on the roof”, recalls Milton, who had previously placed his wife in a chair positioned on a table that was hit by the water level.
A helicopter from the Military Brigade flew over the region and observed what was happening at the residence of Milton and Maria da Conceição. The rescue operation then began.
A military police officer descended along a steel cable to the roof where Maria was. In operations like this, the person to be rescued is “clipped” to the rescuer.
“The boy came hanging, got down in front of me. He was putting things on her. She took the Bible, put it under her arm. I even helped tie her up and I said ‘my love, hug this boy according to our marriage. He came save you'”, describes Milton.
Witnesses to the rescue began to observe a strange movement in the steel cable that would make the operation possible: the structure rotated around the helicopter. According to Milton, his wife approached the vehicle, but the cable then broke and she fell into the water.
“What I saw was the moment of the lifting. I was watching and it rolled a lot, a lot, a lot, it rolled a lot. They both rolled. That wasn’t supposed to happen”, recalls Eduardo Alves da Silva, Maria da Conceição’s brother-in-law.
Eduardo describes that the observation of the rescue suggested that the cable was being twisted. Then came the free fall of the sister-in-law and the military police officer who carried out the rescue.
“We hope he is well, because he came to save lives, there was a mechanical failure. I I’m undergoing psychological treatment because of this. (…) It’s something I will never forget in my life”, laments the brother-in-law.
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Videos show the accident
A RBSTV he had access to videos taken by witnesses during the rescue. In the records, it is possible to see the moment when the rescuer approached the roof of Maria da Conceição and the helicopter without the steel cable attached to the vehicle.
“My God in heaven, ‘Conce’ has just fallen”, describes during the records one of Maria da Conceição’s neighbors, who was called ‘Conce’ by acquaintances.
In one of the videos, it is also possible to see a rescue basket leaving the helicopter in an attempt to rescue the rescuer and the victim. No video captured the exact moment the steel cable broke.
A RBSTV took the images for an expert aeronautical. For him, the videos are inconclusive, but it is possible to point out that there was a failure during the process.
“It cannot be emphasized enough that there was, indeed, a failure. In a normal rescue, the cable should support people which he proposes to rescue”, says Daniel Calazans, aeronautical expert.
Calazans goes further and questions other points, such as, for example, the fact that Maria da Conceição was not equipped with a life jacket, since the rescue was being carried out on a liquid surface.
“Was there any condition, any circumstance that prevented, within the operation, that the vest could be worn on the victim? Perhaps the victim’s mobility, the way the helicopter approached, presence of wind, displacement, obstacles. The fact that the victim Not wearing a vest is another very interesting question”, adds the expert.
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The helicopter used in the rescue belongs to the Military Brigade’s Air Battalion. One military police investigation was opened to investigate what happened during the rescue of Maria da Conceição. Reports issued by the General Institute of Expertise (IGP) are also being awaited.
A RBSTV tried an interview with the Military Brigade Internal Affairs, which is investigating the reason for the steel cable breaking. However, the body stated that he will not speak about the case.
The Civil Police in Lajeado, which is investigating the cause of Maria da Conceição’s death, I also didn’t want to speak out about the subject. Among the witnesses who will be interviewed by the authorities are agents who participated in the rescue and Milton, the victim’s widower.
“I need to give an answer to my family. I didn’t bring someone from Belém to die here in Rio Grande. And get there in Bragança and say ‘he died, people'”, laments Milton.