Sun, 13 Feb 2000

Missing paraglider found dead in Puncak

JAKARTA (JP): After four days of an intensive search, rescuers found on Saturday the corpse of paraglider Dadang Suharya, who went missing last Tuesday in the mountainous resort area of Puncak, Bogor regency, West Java.

"Dadang was found dead at 1 p.m. below the Pasir Sumbul Telecommunication Tower in dense woodland some one kilometer east of the paragliding launch pad," head of the Search and Rescue (SAR) Team, Col. Wardjoko, said on Saturday.

Wardjoko, who is also commander of the nearby Atang Senjaya Air Force Base, said the corpse of the 17-year-old paraglider was taken to the Red Cross Hospital in Bogor for examination.

"The body was taken in a body bag to the hospital for an autopsy, on a BO-105 chopper owned by the National SAR Agency (Basarnas)," he told The Jakarta Post by phone from the spot.

Dozens of rescuers explored every inch of ground to find the paraglider, who went missing after being surprised by storms while flying in foggy skies over the Gunung Mas Tea Plantation area in Puncak, a favorite retreat for Jakartans.

SAR team member Gendon Subandono told the Post on Friday that the thick fog had limited their vision in their search for Dadang.

The family of the paraglider would not allow the hospital to do an autopsy, rendering it unable to pinpoint the exact cause of death.

A forensic staffer at the hospital, Dedi Subandi, said Dadang's family sent a message to the hospital via the rescue team, saying that the corpse should be sent directly to his home for burial.

"The family prohibited the hospital to perform an autopsy, and asked the hospital to wrap the body in white cloth," he told the Post by phone on late Saturday.

It is Muslim belief that a corpse should be buried as soon as possible after death. Muslims also believe a corpse should be buried with all organs intact.

However, Dedi said, the hospital would wait for a written statement from the victim's family regarding an autopsy.

Hospital regulations state that a hospital is not allowed to do an autopsy after a written statement disallowing the procedure is issued by the family of a victim and approved by local police.

Dedi said the body of the paraglider suffered only slight injuries, with no fractures apparent.

"But his palms were shriveled as though they had been soaked in water. The body was also in a state of decomposition, which is estimated to have started on Wednesday," he said.

Rescue team member Lilik, however, argued that the victim was not submerged in water. "His body was some 10 meters from a small river there, while the paraglider was suspended from a tree," he told the Post.

Dedi suggested there should be an autopsy to reveal the precise cause of death.

"With an autopsy, we can examine organs of the victim to determine precisely the cause of death," he said.

Dadang, along with fellow paraglider Ade Basoni, was flying on Tuesday afternoon when storms broke out. Dadang was blown off course by strong winds, while Ade managed to make an emergency landing at a landing pad.

Dadang, a second year student at Ciawi Economic Vocational High School in Megamendung district, had been a keen paraglider for 18 months. (asa/21)