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. Too Much

    30 sec. to your death is too long a horror. I feel so sad for the boyfriend as well,l to stand there helpless. It's a memory
    I wouldn't wish on anyone. The fellow who swallowed the card said something about how he "may have" been culpable
    or just lacking in the magnitude of a life that was lost and that his punishment ( financial or otherwise)would be insignificant in comparison.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rod C. Venger

    Wes,

    There is NO such thing as an accident. "Accident" is the word we use for things that happen that were not intentional...like shooting someone while cleaning a gun, rear-ending someone at a stop light, or falling 1000 feet because the tether that was supposed to connect the pilot and the student wasn't...or it broke. In every single "accident" that you or anyone else could name and describe, I can tell you why it didn't have to happen and why it wasn't an "accident" at all, but negligent. A guy fails to actually check that his handgun is unloaded. The same guy stupidly points the gun at himself or someone else and pulls the trigger. You rear-end someone at a light because you weren't paying attention. Or you were following too closely or going too fast. Or the fog was so thick, the ice was slick, the snow so deep you should have not been driving at all. In this case, she'd be alive if someone had simply checked two things; (1) that the tether was attached and (2) that it wasn't worn, torn or weakened. Even if it looked perfectly fine and snapped, then it was a manufacturing defect or poor design, so no accident at all. Negligent. The blame merely shifts from the pilot to the manufacturer. I can write like this all day long and in any scenario you can dream up. There's no such thing as an "accident". It's a made up word. Every effect has a cause and every cause an effect. Fact. People need to THNIK (heheheheh) about what they do.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • so....

      Rod, so if your logic is correct. She'd still be alive if only she had listened to her boyfriend when he said "hang on". right?

      let me break it down for you. you're an idiot

      May 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      So first you define the word "accident" then you say there's no such thing as an accident...huh??

      May 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • mab18

      Just because it was negligent doesn't mean it was intentional..... Two different things. You are defining accident in your whole post. The definition of accident includes "an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance" (Merrriam-Webster).

      May 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      What about this one? You are walking down the street and a tree falls on you, killing you instantly. Why is that not an accident? Should I have not been walking that day? Should Mother Nature be at blame for not taking care of the tree? Is it my fault for not looking at the tree before walking? The word accident is a loose word and a word used often in tragic situtations, where people look to off load their guilt and understanding of what actually happened. Certainly, there are accidents that could have been avoided but there are also things that happen that are out of our control.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Williams

      I see your point, but "accident" still applies here. An "accident" is an unexpected and undesirable event.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Common Sense

      So what about a flock of birds flying into an aircraft causing it to have to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River? Must be negligent birds I guess...cause there's no such thing as an accident right?

      May 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • tr00don

      I agree with you. As someone who has been a paratrooper and has also practised hangliding, I agree that such "accidents" are the result of someone's negligence or slapdash work.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      However if you are rear ended at a stop light .... it is the other guys fault. If you are on a plane it it the airlines fault. etc.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bigboard

      This is basically the position of a lawyer to wants people to believe that any bad thing that happens to them is someone else's fault or their own stupidity. Someone below asked about a tree falling on someone. This guy would say either someone was negligent in not taking care of an unsound tree on their property or the person hurt by the tree should have know better than to be out walking in high winds or an ice storm - take your pick. Point is that in spite of most accidents being avoidable, they are still accidents. No one intended for them to happen. Just because someone might be criminally or civily liable does not make them any less accidental.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Meteor falls out of the sky during broad daylight and hits a pedestrian on the head after dropping their kid off to school: accident. Unless the universe is negligent.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • thecastro

      Accident would mean no one is at fault, not that there was no negligence. Accidents happen all of the time. You just don't like to believe so and want someone to blame. That's fine, just admit it.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Awww...how cute

      So, 1L (first year law school student), huh?

      May 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • dbuzz

      I accidentally read your post.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      All words are made up, and accident is an accepted one. Some accidents are caused by negligence, and others are just bad luck. A guy was sitting at the local park the other day, and a tree branch fell on his head and gave him a concussion. It was nobody's fault, just bad luck.

      May 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • cs

      To the guy who says there are no accidents...I agree completely this incident was negligence. Absolutely.

      However, your extreme version of perfectionism regarding other matters is unhealthy for you and those around you. No one can account for everything. Even the universe is not perfect. The earth is tilted and it wobbles around it's axis. The orbit around the sun is not perfect. Meteors hit us. etc. etc. etc.

      May 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • ralphwiggum

      1989, several cars drove over a part of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco that had collapsed after the earthquake. Please explain how those drivers were not part of an "accident". Thank you.

      May 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bnutty

      Yup, pretty sure that Rod C. Venger is just a moron who is a legend in his own mind. But, on the other hand, jumping off a cliff wouldn't make it on a list of bright ideas, no matter the situation. Rod, there is a guy up in Canada giving hang gliding lesson for cheap right now, you should give it a try!

      May 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Solibfiscon

    Very sad, the Instructor should be held completely responsible for this needless death, unless he can prove he took all necesarry precautions (which certainly does not seem to be the case).

    May 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • T-Bone

      He did he swallowed the memory card. I wonder who was on poop watch duty?

      May 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. T-Bone

    Who goes up on glider without checking the tether strap. I mean what a loser.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • TonyInNYC

      A student who has never done it before might not know.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. T-Bone

    How long does it take to poop out a memory card?? She was free fallin. Do they charge extra for that since it is more fun until you hit the ground.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. T-Bone

    She didnt' listen well enough to her boyfriend. Hang on means hang on not fall off. Idiots. Well I guess he is saving money on gifts for the next holiday. Lucky him.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave in Indy

      A string of witless comments – and I wondered what happened to MadTV's writers ...

      May 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      "T-Bone

      She didnt' listen well enough to her boyfriend. Hang on means hang on not fall off. Idiots. Well I
      guess he is saving money on gifts for the next holiday. Lucky him."

      T-bone I hope you, and other jerks who made comments like this, look back in a few years and cringe at how incredibly insensitive, cold, and outright cruel you were to say such spiteful, uncalled for things. Shame on so many of you.

      I hope CNN prints my comment here how much of a absolute as s you and others in your clASS act really are. Jerks.

      May 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. christey123

    So horrifying and so sad.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. christey123

    So horrifying and so sad

    May 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SD

    May she rest in peace.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. driveby

    Some people should not be allowed to have children, just like some people should not be allowed to have dangerous equipment. So sad for her family. But what can you do? This place is a freeforall with no sensible regulations or accountability.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. T-Bone

    I wonder what the last thing that was going through her head beside I should have hung on and her feet.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cajr

    when you take dumb risks with your life, bad things can happen. hell i dont even like sitting in the passenger seat of a car. i want to be the one in control. some how the whole thing plays out like the movie cliffhanger with stallone hangin on to that broad whose harness broke, eventually slipping and falling to her rocky death. shoulda went bowling.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. T-Bone

    Last thing through her head were her teeth. I hope it wasn't too painful. Sh should have listend to her boyfriend and hung on.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Julie

    Accidents are not preventable. This event was preventable. Therefore, this was no accident.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. retphxfire

    Why is Rod being attacked? All of your rebuttals just reinforce his position. He never said all accidents are negligence or unavoidable. The birds in the plane engines..no way to know those birds would be in that location at the same time as the jet, but the birds didn't fly into the engines as a mass suicide, they did it accidently, it was.pretty much unavoidable and no individual should be in trouble. However, not checking equipment that is expected, easily accomplished and an easy fix to avoid an accidnt is negligent, just like the fender bender, the pool with no barrier and adults leaving a child by the pool, not using child restraints.....

    May 7, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
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