Woman sits with boyfriend's body for 9 hours after he 'chokes on in-flight meal'
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A woman refused to leave her boyfriend's side after he died while eating an in-flight meal.
Vanessa Preechakul, a 27-year-old architect, and Robert Rippingale were on a flight from Singapore to Auckland to attend his parents' joint 50th birthday when the tragedy occurred.
Just 60 minutes into the 11-hour Jetstar flight, Mr Rippingale chose a beef dish while watching a film.
Vanessa said she saw him shaking but did not immediately realise something was wrong.
According to the Daily Mail, she said: 'I thought he was laughing very hard,' she said. 'Then I looked at his face and his eyes were rolling and he couldn't talk. His lips were turning purple.'
A doctor and two nurses tried to save him with CPR, but were unsuccessful.
His body was moved into the galley area, and Miss Preechakul was allowed to sit next to him for the rest of the flight.
According to the Telegraph, she said: 'The doctor came to me and said he was so sorry. He did his best.
'I had to cope. I had no choice.'
Vanessa added: 'One minute we were sitting next to each other kissing, holding hands and the next minute he was choking.
'I'm struggling to come to terms with his death. He was so outgoing and generous.'
The airline, a low-cost member of the Qantas group, said it had contacted passengers on the plane and offered them an NZ$100 voucher for the distress, as well as expressing sympathies for Rippingle's family.
His father, David Rippingale, said Robert was born with a hole in his heart, which he underwent surgery for at the age of six.
He told the Telegraph: 'The police told us he choked on the food on his flight, but he had a heart problem so we think it might have been that.
'We're just waiting for the answers now.'
Vanessa told the NZ Herald that the couple met in Singapore, where Mr Rippingale has worked for the last three years.