May 7th, 2012
10:28 AM ET

Report: 'Hang on! I love you!' hang glider flier's boyfriend screamed

Hang-gliding enthusiasts gathered at the site of a fellow flier's death over the weekend as witnesses recalled the last words the victim's boyfriend yelled during her deadly flight over British Columbia.

Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, was on her first flight on a hang glider on April 28, when she fell 1,000 feet to her death in a forest clearing near Agassiz, British Columbia.

Fellow hang glider pilots, most of whom had never met the woman, got together in the clearing on Saturday, erecting a cross and planting a cherry tree as a memorial, Canada's CTV reported.

"We embraced her as our own, and so because of that, the deep sorrow is like losing someone close to us," said a tearful Jason Warner, a safety officer for the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada.

Meanwhile, Nicole McLearn, a witness to the accident, told Post Media News in Canada that Godinez-Avila and her boyfriend were "joyous" as they watched other hang gliders take to the air that Saturday.

Another witness, Frederic Bourgault, said Godinez-Avila flashed a big smile as she prepared for the tandem flight with instructor William Jonathan Orders.

Both witnesses said as Orders and Godinez-Avila ran for their takeoff, something looked wrong, according to the Post report.

“Oh, she’s hanging low,” Bourgault told the Post he said out loud.

McLearn thought their silhouettes "didn't look right," according to the report.

McLearn told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that when the glider was in the air, Godinez-Avila appeared to be wearing her harness, but it wasn’t attached to the glider.

"He was horizontal but she was now hanging vertically, and it looked like in essence she had him in a bear hug around the chest area," McLearn told the CBC.

"I could see her starting to slip down his body ... past the waist, down the legs. Finally she got to the feet and tried to hang on and obviously couldn't hang on for that much longer and let go, tearing off the tandem pilot's shoes in the process," McLearn said.

Back at the launch site, Godinez-Avila's boyfriend watched her fall, according to the Post report.

“Lenami! Hang on! I love you!” he screamed, the Post reported.

She was in the air about 30 seconds before she fell.

After the flight, Orders was arrested and charged with obstructing justice. Police say he swallowed a memory card possibly containing video of the fatal accident.

He was granted bail on Friday after posting bond of 5,750 Canadian dollars, said Neil MacKenzie, communications counsel with the province's criminal justice branch.

The recording has since passed and is now in police custody, MacKenzie said. He declined comment on whether anything retrievable could be taken from the card.

Orders is expected to be released from custody on Monday, CTV reported.

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Filed under: Canada • Courts • Crime • World
soundoff (284 Responses)
  1. andulamb

    Another stretched video courtesy of CNN.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. NoWayJose

    My wife is always wanting to parachute, bungy jump, hang glide, etc. This is exactly why you should not do such dangerous things. "It won't happen to me" is probably the last thing she told herself. Home made zip lines are not any safer.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. MotoJB

    How sad...hurts to think about this happening to my lady. My heart goes out to this lady, her family and boyfriend. RIP.

    May 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. cindy

    This is one of the risks of doing something stupid. Humans are not capable of flying.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Lucid Citizen

    If they're going to be as high as 1,000 ft. why aren't they outfitted with emergency parachutes in addition to safety harnesses? And why don't the harnesses have a second 'back-up' or 'safety' attachment; for instance, a primary attachment that latches to the hang glider frame, and a secondary attachment that tethers the student to the instructor? And finally, why isn't there a safety protocol in place that provides tandem gliding partners with a point-by-point pre-flight checklist that each participant must audibly confirm to the other before launch (rather than risking all on a single participant's presence of mind on any given day)?...I feel for the girl, her boyfriend, family, and friends, but I also hope it's wake up call for everyone engaging in thrill sports.

    May 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Richard Mosley

    He made a mistake. She paid for it with her life. Shame he did not just let go of the A frame and grab her, reclip her to his harness or lock his elbows around part of the harness & deploy his reserve if required. My hang glider will just float along without any input ie no handed. There was probably only seconds to make the right moves. A terrible thing to happen for everyone involved.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:02 am | Report abuse | Reply
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