Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 29th 2016 Contents A27
Oscar host Chris Rock, producer Reginald
Hudlin and film academy president Cheryl
Boone Isaacs took an afternoon off from
Academy Awards preparations to celebrate
black women in Hollywood.
Rock, Hudlin and Boone Isaacs were
among the guests at Essence magazine's
ninth annual awards luncheon Thursday at
the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Rock and Boone
Isaacs didn't speak publicly; Hudlin took the
stage to present an award to legendary
entertainer Debbie Allen.
The annual Essence event celebrates the
achievements of black women in
entertainment. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross,
entertainment attorney Nina Shaw and
filmmaker Thais Francis were also
recognized. Francis thanked the magazine
"for creating a platform of visibility."
"A lot of us in this audience know the
importance of visibility, especially during a
time, in a society, in a world, in an industry
that's telling us that we're invisible," she
said. Shonda Rhimes, who introduced Allen
as the new producing director of Grey's
Anatomy, called the writer-director-
choreographer-performer "a force of
Winfrey joins Essence to celebrate black women in Hollywood
Imagine falling in a slow descent from
8,500 feet out of the sky into the jungle
in a strange country, then finding your
way out by faith alone, with one arm in a
sling, fighting exhaustion and impending
darkness while trekking across 20 kilometres
of forest to reach civilisation.
Sounds like the scene from a movie right?
For one local paragliding enthusiast, this was
the reality on February 1 when his equipment
failed while he was participating in a Paragliding
competition in Colombia. The competition took
place in the scenic Roldanillo, Colombia from
January 26 to February 2.
Businessman and father of two, Marc Ramlal,
45, one of a team of a dozen locals who par-
ticipate annually in the competition, cheated
death and on Wednesday, contacted the T&T
Guardian to tell his tale.
"There was a team of about 12 of us who
went to Colombia for the competition and we
had already participated for six days, when I
had a fatal collapse of my glider at 8,500 feet
in the air," Ramlal recalled. "It was close to
noon and I had been in the air for about an
hour and a half when my lines became entangled
and I started to fall."
Initially, Ramlal thought he could right the
glider before having to deploy his parachute.
"I was trying to free the lines, I was falling
very quickly and I knew at that speed I was
likely to black out soon...but I knew I had time
to get things going again and stop the descent.
I decided to throw the parachute out before I
blacked out, but when I threw it and I was
waiting for the pull you get when it deploys...but
it did not come."
Falling at a speed of 120 miles per hour with
all hope gone, Ramlal decided to make peace
"When I realised nothing was happening, I
looked back and saw the parachute tangled in
the lines and I realised I was going to die. I
started praying and asking God to give me sal-
vation, to forgive me for all the wrongs things
I did, knowingly and unknowingly."
Thoughts of his two sons, Brandon and Chris-
tian and his wife Shellian raced through his
mind, as he resigned himself to seeing them
again in heaven.
"I asked God to protect my children and my
family, I kept thinking I would never see my
sons again...that this was going to be the end,
I resigned myself to dying at that point."
He hit the forest floor less than two minutes
later, ready to make his maker.
"When I had about two minutes left, I just
talked to God, I told Him everything I could
in that time."
But God wasn t ready yet to call Ramlal home.
"I was so stunned when I hit the ground and
I realised I was still alive, there was a spike that
had punctured through the glider and came to
rest against my back, but it had not even
scratched my skin."
After giving thanks, Ramlal got up to assess
the situation, powering on his GoPro camera
and beginning to recount his fall to the cam-
"I thought my arm was broken, so I made
a splint and set it...I knew I was in a dangerous
situation because I had one sandwich and a
bottle of water and I had no idea where I was,
my compass had broken with the fall, my phone
had cut off and my radio was only able to pick
transmissions in the short range, I was too far
away for anyone to reach me."
Luckily for Ramlal, he is certified in many
different outdoor sports and rescue saving.
Lucky paraglider falls...
...lives to tell the tale
The Google Earth map showing Ramlal's descent on the day he crashed. PHOTO: GOOGLE EARTH
Marc Ramlal says
he has given up all
sports in order to
Continues on Page A28
"I was trying to free the lines, I was falling very quickly and I knew at that speed I was likely to black out
soon...but I knew I had time to get things going again and stop the descent. I decided to throw the
parachute out before I blacked out, but when I threw it and I was waiting for
the pull you get when it deploys...but it did not come."
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