Details emerge in death of Russian high diving champion


Officials have shed light on the car crash which killed Leyla Salyamova this week

The driver of the car in which Russian women’s high diving champion Leyla Salyamova was traveling most likely did not take into account the weather conditions before the crash which claimed both their lives, officials have said.

Salyamova died at the age of 23 in the fatal accident in Karelia on Thursday. Details have since emerged about the circumstances of the tragedy, which happened when the Mitsubishi Lancer in which Salyamova was a passenger collided with a Volkswagen Tiguan on a section of the Sortavala highway in the Lakhdenpokhsky District.

“The driver of the Mitsubishi car did not take into account the meteorological and road conditions, chose the wrong speed, as a result of which he lost control of the vehicle while cornering. As a result of an uncontrolled skid, the car swerved into the oncoming lane, where it collided with a Volkswagen,” local officials were quoted as saying on Friday.

Images of the aftermath of the crash were shared by the Republic of Karelia’s committee for public safety, and showed the mangled wreckage of both cars. The Mitsubishi Lancer appeared to have been torn into two pieces by the impact of crash, with one section of the car lying by the roadside in the snow.

The two people traveling in the Volkswagen – a 47-year-old male driver and 39-year-old female passenger – were both hospitalized. The woman, who was named as Ekaterina Zelenovskaya, said that she had lost her unborn child in the crash.

“I remember that we were moving towards St. Petersburg. We were moving at about 110 kilometers per hour. And, apparently, they came up from behind the hill… I saw that the oncoming car turned towards us, it was in our lane. We didn’t even have time to do anything,” said Zelenovskaya.

She added that she had undergone surgery for internal bleeding and ruptured intestines, explaining: “I was in my third month of pregnancy. Now there is no (chance). My collarbone is broken.” The driver of the Volkswagen also required surgery after suffering what was described as a “combined musculoskeletal injury.”

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Russian high diving champion dies at 23

Following Salyamova’s death, tributes were paid to an athlete described as a pioneer for Russian women in her sport.

Artem Silchenko, a cliff diving world series champion in 2013, was among those to honor her as someone who lived life to the fullest. “Leila was active, she wanted to perform shows. We’d decided to include Leyla in our competitions next year… We are all shocked by what happened,” he told Match TV.

Salyamova was Russian women’s high diving champion in 2021 and was a silver medalist in synchronized high diving at the 2015 national championships. She also competed on the popular Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, making her debut at the iconic stage in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, last August.

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