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. David

    It is called malpractice, the pilot and company attendants did not check/double check the rigging.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Specimen Yarp

    How horrible to watch someone you love die right in front of you. I would not wish that on anyone.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Marcia Cross

    William Jonathan Orders needs to be tarred, feathered, and presented to this girls family for some just punishment. What a coward.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ian

    Freefalling for 30 seconds means she would have been falling from approx 14,000 feet. Handgliders do not go anywhere near that high.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • miguel

      Instead of rushing to show off what you know, consider reading more carefully. "She was in the air 30 seconds before she fell," the report reads. In other words, she dropped from the glider 30 seconds after takeoff.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan3354

      She was in the air for 30 seconds, not falling for 30 seconds.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Learn to read. It didn't say she fell for 30 seconds. Most of that time in the air she was hanging on to the instructor.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      She was in flight for 30 seconds before falling, It says she fell from 1,000ft. IE, it took 30 seconds for her to lose her grip on the instructor.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Siva

      The time of fall was not 30 seconds. She hung on for 30 seconds of the flight before she fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • westwarddiscontent

      "She was in the air about 30 sec. *before* she fell" does not mean she was in free fall for 30 seconds. Thanks for the math lesson, though.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • grady

      Read much? It says 30 seconds BEOFRE she fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      You misread the story...she fell 1,000 feet, she was in the air for 30 seconds (she didn't free-fall for 30 seconds)...the was hanging from the hang glider for most of the time...

      May 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron E

      She was in the air as part of the flight for 30 seconds total, not freefalling for 30 seconds.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • dummypants

      She didn't free fall for 30 seconds. They took off and were in the air for 30 seconds before she fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ashley S.

      "She was in the air about 30 seconds before she fell."
      Try reading the actual words in the article before commenting. KTHX

      May 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • devoleary

      I thought the same thing when it said she was in the air for 30 seconds - she didn't free fall for 30 seconds, she was hanging on. So terrifying for her, so horrible for all of them, even the cowardly instructor who made a deadly mistake.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Clay

      She was hang gliding for 30 seconds before she fell, not free falling for 30 seconds.
      Reading comprehension FAIL on your part.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • buddgie girl

      please see miguel's comment immediately after yours. nice try.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • shagger

      It says she was in the air for 30 seconds, not that she fell for 30 seconds.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Read the story again. She was in the air for about 30 seconds when she fell about 1000 feet.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • frank

      iit stated she was in the air 30 seconds before she fell. meaning the fall didnt happen until 30 seconds into the flight...

      May 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • dirkk03

      They meant she was airborne for only 30 seconds before she fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • HaikuMatt

      That's right. But it doesn't say she fell for 30 s, it says she was in the air for 30 s before she fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meiewe

      @Ian – please read the article again ... this time for clarity. It said,"She was in the air about 30 seconds before she fell." The word BEFORE was the giveaway. It didn't say that she fell through the air for 30 seconds. It's okay Ian...I guess you have a right to be wrong.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

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

      May 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meiewe

      Please read the article again ... this time for clarity. It said,"She was in the air about 30 seconds before she fell." The word BEFORE was the giveaway. It didn't say that she fell through the air for 30 seconds. It's okay Ian...I guess you have a right to be wrong.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • redmonde

      she was in the air for 30 seconds and then fell. Not that she fell for 30 seconds.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devin

      30 seconds in the air attached to the hang glider before she fell is how I took that statement.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • diego homans

      I think it means 30 seconds from take-off to fall.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cathleen

      Think they mean she was in the air a total of 30 seconds, including the time she was hanging on to the pilot.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      It didn't say she fell for 30 seconds, it said she was in the air for about 30 seconds BEFORE she fell. Presumably the fall only lasted a few seconds, fortunately.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • PaulieJ

      "She was in the air about 30 seconds before she fell."
      Doesn't say she fell for 30 seconds before she hit the ground.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      She was in the air for 30 seconds BEFORE she fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • CalQT

      She didn't fall for 30 seconds – "She was in the air about 30 seconds before she fell."

      May 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • J-Man

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

      May 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      She didn't fall for 30 seconds – she and Orders flew about 30 seconds before she fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdublu

      You should really read the article before you comment on it.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zach

      Held on for 30 seconds before she fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I took that to mean they were together on the hanglider flying for 30 seconds before she slipped and fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      In the air 30 seconds before she fell. BEFORE she fell. Doesn't say she fell for 30 seconds.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clare

      It means she fell from the glider 30 seconds after take-off, not that she was falling for 30 seconds

      May 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • JF

      She was in the air for 30 seconds before she fell...it doesn't say anything about her free falling for 30 seconds.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • DS

      It said she was in the air 30 seconds before falling (meaning from take-off until the moment she fell), NOT falling for 30 seconds.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

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

      Derp. Derpity derp. DA DERPHERPY DERP!! Please, don't ever speak again. Not to anyone. Not in any way. Just remain silent forever.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Read it correctly

      She was in the air 30 seconds BEFORE she fell. Impress us with your math skills on rate of fall but zippo on reading skills

      May 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMD9635

      She didn't fall for 30 seconds. She was in the air for 30 seconds before she couldn't hold on any longer.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      In the air for 30 seconds, not free falling for thirty seconds.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • dc

      She was in the air 30 seconds, not free falling 30 seconds. Read it again.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • rebootd

      Actually, hang gliders DO go that high. Some pilots fly with oxygen too. This flight certainly wasn't at 14000 feet however, so I can't speak to the length of time she fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. glu

    There is absolutely no excuse for this mistake, the instructor should be jailed for life.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. JMK

    @Ian

    Doesnt say she fell for 30 seconds. It says she was in the air for about 30 seconds BEFORE she fell.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Leigh2

    Condolences to her family and friends. 27 is far too young to leave this world. May she be at peace and if there is something unseemly with what occurred (sure kinda looks that way), may her family get justice. With that said, no amount of justice on earth will be enough to bring her back. So sad. :+(

    May 7, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. SAD

    Ian – If you read you'll see it said she was in the air 30 seconds before falling, NOT falling for 30 seconds! Why the hell would that instructor swallow the video card. Sounds like a horrible instructor to not have confirmed that the tandem rig was attached.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. bill

    The instructor made a mistake and didn't make sure she was harnessed properly, but swallowing the video was a criminal action, which makes him guilty as hell.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. @ Ian

    You didn't do very well on reading comprehension during the SAT (or ACT)'s did you?

    May 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Debu

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. danielle

    Ian,,,it did not say she FELL for 30 seconds its said she was in the air for 30 seconds before falling.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Dakota2000

    This is a question for HG pilots: Isn't there a safety checklist you need to go through before jumping off a cliff? How could this have happened?

    May 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Unit34AHunter

    Another senseless death. When will the carnage end? We must BAN the use of hang-gliders! Do it for the Children! O! The Humanity!

    May 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. fred bazzeeda

    the instructor, swallowing the card, definitely knows he did something improper. he needs to be publicly punished.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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