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. Troy

    Things like "meteors falling on people's heads" or "someone hitting you with their car while they were drunk" are accidents. I believe Rod above has a point, though maybe not spelled out entirely correct. This was negligence on the part of the hang glider instructor. They should have made sure that everything was properly attached and in safe order. Therefore, that being said, maybe the term accident should be broken down into two categories: unintentional consequence (meteor falling, resulting in death) or result of negligence on behalf of other (instructor not fulfilling responsibility to ensure safety).

    May 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SloppyJ30

    Stupid debate started by a shrill and pointless post. Rod wants to re-purpose the word "accident" to fit his little narrow definition. Fine; go ahead, Rod. Use the word "accident" any way you want to. In the world I live in (the English-speaking world), an accident can include an act of negligence or that should have been prevented. If I, though negligence, kill someone but I had absolutely no intention of causing harm to anyone, guess what? Accident. My fault? Sure. But I don't know where you got your idea that an accident has to be a purely random outcome influenced by no-one.

    What's your beef with a word, anyway? Does it matter how it's used? If you want to pick a fight with a useless word, try "utilize."

    May 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • J R Brown

      Personally, I do not believe in "accidents". There are events of misfortune created or precipitated by the negligences of at least one person...but there is no such thing as an event where "no one is at fault". When I see someone say "it was an accident", I assume that person to be morally bankrupt or just plain stup!d from then on...

      May 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveOfTx

      I object to how you are utilizing the word utilize. Your utilization of the word utilize in such a random pointless point does nothing to further the utilization of meaning of the matter of the facts at hand. So there.

      May 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Utilize, although often misused, has a specific meaning: using something for it's specific, intended purpose. Thus, one might utilize a screwdriver to screw in a screw, but one might use a screwdriver to pry open a can of paint.

      Also, utilize has more syllables than use and makes me sound smarter.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. myob

    Get real. The glider company had a duty to provide safety. Period.

    May 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rebootd

    The girl was a passenger, possibly a student, and it was NOT her fault. It can be an overwhelming experience for the senses, going for a tandem ride when you are new to the sport, and this is why the instructor is responsible for his passenger's safety. In hang gliding, the last thing you do before launching is to do a "hang check" to make_absolutely_sure that you and your passenger are hooked in, with carabiner locked. Good pilots will have a third party, preferably another pilot check it as well, saying out loud in confirmation: "You ARE hooked in." This is just as important as the preflight of the glider, and clearly this instructor either became complacent, or was in a hurry to give more tandem rides that day. Unfortunately for him, Mother Nature is not forgiving of mistakes like that.

    May 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. guywhocares

    Accident; an unintentional/unforeseen event resulting in damage to property or person, which in ~97% of all cases can be attributed to human failure. So, this is an accident by the strictest standards, unfortunately the damage to the person is irreversible.

    May 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jay P

    The comments on these posts are pathetic. Absolutely no respect. It makes me sad.

    May 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. American_Fury

    Note to self; Do not get the wife a hand gliding lesson for our upcoming anniversary!! Note to everyone JR Brown is a complete and utter mor0n. And his own words can be used quite effectively to describe himself "morally bankrupt and just plain stup!d" Sorry, I change OR to AND since you are both. RIP Lenami!!

    May 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. greg

    Rod is a rod.

    May 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mik

    This poor woman... rest in peace. The rest of you... GET A LIFE!

    May 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. don

    Natural selection at its finest, lol. I love when stupid people do dangerous things and dont make it out the other end. Thank you darwin.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Boinking BIll

    Another one who failed the one bounce test.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mike

    The instructor must've done something wrong. Why would he shallow the video care if he hadn’t?

    May 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michael

    I cannot even begin to imagine how this woman was NOT secured to the glider before takeoff. This is gross stupidity and negligence. Swallowing the memory card just makes it all the weirder.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mrmagoo

    I guess she found out the hardway that people cant fly...

    May 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    it was an accident Rod was born

    May 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
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