The Unresolved Death of Steven Hiller

by Matt Triewly


Diary entry from July 2006

Feel slightly under par. Despite the fact that I am on higher levels of Lisinopril, since Monday I've been experiencing an underlying sensation of mild nausea and just detectable 'sticky' vision. I was going to go swimming today but have decided perhaps to go tomorrow. It seems to me that exercise either raises my blood pressure or puts my circulatory system under some strain which then leads to the dizziness and nausea. I believe that my 'vertigo' stems from heart and circulation problems and not inner ear defects. It's not good whatever the cause. I will hopefully have the chance to commit suicide before it gets too bad.

Talking of suicide I watched a programme a few days ago about the case of Steven Hiller - I think that is his name - who plunged to his death during a parachute jump. On the day of the tragedy he went skydiving with two 'friends' and jumped from the aircraft at about, I think, 20,000 feet. They performed some formations together then separated before opening their chutes and touching down a safe distance apart. After landing, Steven was nowhere to be found but his reserve chute was found by itself and alarm bells rang. A search was conducted and someone noticed that a small area of corn in a field had been flattened - this was shown on the film but obviously not the body.

The police were called and it was ascertained that vital straps had been cut. It was now apparent that his death was not accidental. Initially the police overlooked a pair of scissors that had been left in the boot of Steven's car because an 'expert' concluded that they could not have cut the straps - wrong! Because of this oversight his skydiving mates were suspected of his death. There was some evidence to suggest that there had been friction at times between them. Fortunately another investigator returned to the scissors in Steven's car. They were tested for fibres and it was concluded that they were used to cut the straps. The boot of the car was not locked so there was a remote possibility that someone could have had access to them. Once again, suicide came to the forefront of the investigation. Steven's state of mind and lifestyle was put under scrutiny. It was discovered that he was heavily in debt (he was a student at an army college) and that his relationship with his girlfriend was coming to an end. His friend said that he wasn't (in his opinion) worried about the debts because he would soon be earning a high salary in the services. However he had failed several exams so the future high earnings may not have materialised. His girlfriend said it was only a 'casual' relationship; but how would she know what he really felt? Underneath he may have been really desolate. The other factor was that he had recently embraced the faith of Roman Catholicism - a sure sign of existential crisis in my opinion. Naturally, the priest interviewed stated that it was contrary to 'God's law' that anyone would take their own life; but just because you go to church doesn't make you a believer; or a 'good person' for that matter. The most interesting thing, for me, about this case was the footage of him prior to his last jump: in the minibus; practising manoeuvres with his partners; in the plane - in all of them he looked happy, even larking about. This fact was remarked about by his family, girlfriend and friends: how could he kill himself when he appeared so happy. During the programme it was revealed that he had a talent for acting - though we all have a lesser or greater aptitude for adopting a persona. I postulate - nobody will ever really know - that for whatever reason he intended to end his life. I believe that he didn't want his jumping buddies to get any wind of it otherwise they would have aborted the jump so he had to act as he normally behaved prior to jumping. It maybe that he thought he would be easier on his parents if there was some doubt as to the cause of his death; or possibly he derived some twisted satisfaction in leaving this world with a question mark. And in that he succeeded!

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