AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
KOLKATA: A daredevil Indian who held the Guinness World Record for the distance travelled on a zip-line while hanging by his hair has died while performing a new stunt, officials said today.
Sailendra Nath Roy, a 49-year-old police driver, was attempting to cross the turbulent Teesta River yesterday in the state of West Bengal on a 180-metre wire above the water.
After attaching his shoulder-length hair to a pulley on the zip-line, Roy had completed about half of the distance when his pony-tail got entangled and he found himself unable to move, an AFP photographer at the scene said. Hundreds of spectators initially cheered him on, but then began screaming in horror when they saw the married father of two sons making increasingly desperate attempts to move forward.
"Roy tried frantically to get hold of a second rope to reach the finishing point," senior local police officer K Jayaraman told AFP. After about 20 minutes, he became motionless and was eventually rescued by local people. No ambulance or a doctor was present during the performance, which was watched by his family. The driver, who had taken the day off work to perform, was admitted to hospital in Siliguri, 450 kilometres away, where he was declared dead by doctors of a suspected heart attack.
"Preliminary investigations suggest that Roy suffered a heart attack caused by a nervous breakdown after remaining suspended for several minutes," said BR Satpathi who heads West Bengal state's medical services. The results of a post-mortem are expected later today.
Roy, who was wearing a life-jacket over his shirt and carrying the Indian flag, achieved the Guinness World Record in 2011 after covering 82.5 metres on a zip wire while attached by his hair at a hotel in the desert state of Rajasthan.
Last year he used his pony-tail to drag an engine and four coaches of the heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Roy's younger brother Benoy, who was witnessing his brother's stunt for the first time, said, "We were proud of his bravery. He was sure to win but destiny has taken his life and the most beloved member of our family as well."