A 31-year-old New Zealander choked and died after eating an in-flight meal on a flight from Singapore to Auckland.
Robert Rippingale was pronounced dead by an onboard doctor 90 minutes after the Jetstar flight took off and his girlfriend Vanessa Preechakul is struggling to come to terms with the her "outgoing and generous" partner's death.
AdvertisementPreechakul revealed how she was forced to sit next to the body of her boyfriend for nine hours.
"One minute we were sitting next to each other kissing, holding hands and the next minute he was choking," the New Zealand Herald News quoted her as saying.
"I kept thinking 'How could you do this to me?'.
"He wanted to come back [to New Zealand] so much and he just left me there," she stated.
Rippingale had lived and worked in Singapore for three years, where he met Preechakul and was bringing her to New Zealand to discover the country and to celebrate his parents' 50th birthdays. Instead they moaned the death of their eldest son.
The 31-year-old was so excited about the trip that they arrived at the airport six hours early for the 8pm flight, and an hour and a half into the flight, the crew started serving beef and chicken for dinner.
Rippingale was tucking into his beef dish while watching a movie when Preechakul noticed him shaking, but at first she didn't realise anything was wrong.
"I thought he was laughing very hard; then I looked at his face and his eyes were rolling and he couldn't talk. His lips were turning purple," she stated.
A doctor and two nurses quickly rushed to help after hearing her scream and performed CPR on him in the galley, but were unable to save him.
"The doctor came to me and said he was so sorry; he did his best," she said.
The body was moved to the crew rest area behind a curtain and Preechakul was asked to sit next to her deceased boyfriend whose body had been covered with a blanket by crewmembers, for the remaining nine hours of the flight.
"I had to cope - I had no choice," Preechakul said.
More than 150 people attended the funeral of Rippingale, remembering the kind, generous man with an "infectious smile" who loved his family, partying and eating fast food.
Jetstar has said that the cause of Rippingale's death was unknown and a coroner's report is expected this month. (ANI)
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