John Baldock got lucky. Very lucky.
Baldock, who has a master’s degree in engineering from Oxford University, was just chilling in the garden of a $3 million home outside London when he heard a thud.
“There was an almighty bang. At first I thought it was some scaffolding falling down and thought nothing more about it,” one of Baldock’s neighbors told the Daily Mail.
But it wasn’t. It was the sound of a frozen body hitting the ground after falling from 3,500 feet.
“The corpse fell to the ground as the nine-hour flight from Nairobi approached London Heathrow Airport and opened its landing gear on Sunday afternoon,” the Mail wrote.
Police later said the victim was likely a stowaway who had hidden inside the landing gear of a Kenya Airways flight that landed at Heathrow, about 10 miles from the house where his body was found. Upon inspection, food and drinking water was found within the wheel well.
The body created a huge crater in the lawn and smashed two concrete paving slabs.
Baldock was “very shaken” by the incident, the Mail said, noting that there was “blood all over the walls of the garden.” A neighbor gave a first-hand account.
My husband decided to see what was going on and went upstairs to take a look. He was obviously quite shocked and went out into the street where my neighbour was standing on the phone to the police.
He was really shaken up. He’d been in the garden when it happened and the body must have landed so close to where he was.
My husband came back in and I asked him what was going on and he said “haven’t you seen the man? The man who fell from the sky?”
I wondered what he was talking about and went up to see for myself and there in the middle of the lawn was a body of a man.
The Kenya Airports Authority said it was investigating the incident.
“We have been informed by authorities in London that on June 30th at approximately 1541hrs (UK Time) a body of a yet to be identified male stowaway was discovered in South London. The body was traced to the undercarriage of KQ flight 100 that departed from JKIA,” the authority wrote on Twitter.
“All relevant security organs at JKIA have been informed,a joint investigation team has been constituted & is investigating the incident.We wish to reiterate that Safety & Security is a priority at our airports & this incident is being treated with the seriousness it deserves.”
This wasn’t the first time a body fell from a plane near Heathrow. In 2016, the body of Carlito Vale, a young Mozambican immigrant, was found on a rooftop along a Heathrow flight path. He was reportedly decapitated as he crashed into an air conditioning unit after falling from 1,400 feet.
In 2012, Jose Matada, also from Mozambique, died after falling from the wheel well of a Heathrow-bound British Airways flight from Luanda, Angola.
Transcontinental planes typically fly at 35,000 feet or higher, where conditions can become extreme. Temperatures drop to as low as minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit and oxygen becomes thin.