Indian Guinness holder dies during ponytail zip-line stunt


Indian stuntman Sailendra Nath Roy is watched by onlookers as he hangs on a rope while attempting to cross the River Teesta on the outskirts of Siliguri on April 28, 2013.


Diptendu Dutta

Indian daredevil and 49-year-old police officer Sailendra Nath Roy died during a stunt in West Bengal on Sunday.

Roy was known for a specific feat: He would attach his hair to a pulley — this time on a 594-foot wire — and, as he had a number times before, would zip-line over a river, hanging by his long hair only.

He had even won the 2011 Guinness World Record for such a feat.

But on Sunday the stuntman was about halfway when he suddenly became entangled and unable to move.

"He was desperately trying to move forward. He was trying to scream out some instruction. But no one could follow what he was saying. After struggling for 30 minutes he became still," said Balai Sutradhar, a photographer who covered the stunt.

Hundreds of onlookers watched, including members of his family, as Roy dangled over the wild Teesta river. Eventually a motionless Roy was rescued and taken to a hospital 280 miles away in Siliguri where he was pronounced dead of a suspected heart attack.

"Preliminary investigations suggest that Roy suffered an heart attack caused by a nervous breakdown after remaining suspended for several minutes," said B.R. Satpathi, head of West Bengal state's medical services.

No doctor or ambulance was present during the stunt, BBC News reported.

A friend who asked to remain anonymous told the UK broadcaster: "His wife used to urge him to quit doing dangerous stunts. Mr. Roy convinced her that crossing the Teesta river would be his last. Unfortunately, that became his last stunt."

Roy is not the only Indian with a seemingly unhealthy interest in setting such dubious records. In recent years, Indians have posted records for everything from the longest hair sprouting from the inner ear to the longest continuous motor scooter ride — in a desperate, globalization-meets-post-colonialism thirst for fame.

According to a report in The Los Angeles Times last year, Indian attempts to get in the Guinness book have increased 178 percent over the last five years.

However, before rushing to judge, that only puts Indians in third place — after the United States and Britain.

Senior Correspondent Jason Overdorf contributed from India. Follow him on Twitter @joverdorf.