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. Joe

    Too bad she couldn't have gotten her legs around him. The legs would've held... arms, not so much. All this makes me wonder whether the instructor wanted her to fall or not... meaning that the exertion from her hanging on to him was making it hard for *him* to hang on, and maybe he got scared... speculation of course.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. billybob

    Man... she fell for 30 seconds? That is way more than 1000 feet!

    May 7, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • moron

      In the air for 30 seconds BEFORE she fell. Read much?

      May 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emperor Vadik, CA

      She fell after 30 seconds

      May 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      The article said that she was in the air for thirty seconds "before she fell" - not that it took her 30 seconds to fall. Besides, from what we learned from 9/11, it took about a second for every ten floors (approx. 100 feet) before hitting the ground, which meant it took about ten seconds to fall the thousand feet form the top floors. She was not three thousand feet in the air when she fell.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • geri


      May 7, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick in SD

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

      May 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Albert911emt

      Try reading the article again.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Stupidity

    Uless the instructor is guilty, why would he swallow the card? He has done a grave error , i think

    May 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter


      May 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chandler

      I agree. It was his responsibility to hook her up, and clearly he wouldn't have eaten the video if there wasn't anything incriminating on it. His actions mean he is just going to get a stiffer punishment for cover up in addition to his irresponsibility.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      He is so obviously guilty, I don't understand why he didn't instead drop it in the air claiming he accidentally lost it. Also I can't understand if she wasn't hooked why she didn't ask for it before taking off; I know I would as hell.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jason S

    Terrible accident. Obviously the instructor forgot or didn't secure the harness to the hang glider properly.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      You would think that there isn't that much an operator has to check regarding the safety of his passenger before he takes off. Item Number One: Make sure passenger is attached. Shocking lapse in safety protocol.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • cja

      Maybe the instructor did secure the harness to the glider, but maybe something broke. Could have been a mechanical problem. We don't know

      May 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Peter

    Surely looks like instructor did something wrong. He swallowed the memory card...

    Poor girl... I can't imagine her horror as she was slipping...

    May 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • martin

      think about it, he didnt want the video of her falling to be seen, it was horrific and probably just didnt want this to get out to the family.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Redundant

    How many people are going to make the same comment to Ian? He gets the point, folks. RIP, young lady.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Emperor Vadik, CA

    This is nothing more than negligence, negligence that got a girl killed...

    ...I'll be the first one to say it...

    ...he swallowed it because he didn't want the video to end up on the internet for those freaks who like to see people die in videos...

    May 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TMoney

    "The recording has since passed and is now in police custody, MacKenzie said."


    May 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Soko

    Regardless – its Canada, where prisons are like a bad summer camp...and he will probably be out in 5 years, if that!

    May 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. poop-San

    "The recording has since passed" LOL that must be one of THE nastiest pieces of evidence EVER!1

    May 7, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MK

    If she fell for 30 seconds it would be 4410 feet that she fell

    May 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PeanutButts

    Reminds me of Cliff Hanger.... Really heart breaking for the guy...

    May 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. FactChecker

    This is heartbreaking - too sad to imagine. He probably knew immediately that there was no hope.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dave

    Wonder if the other shoe will drop?? That is, will we find out her "boyfriend" took out a nice fat insurance policy on her? Sorry, but the whole thing sounds supicious to me.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jesse

    If he swallowed the memory card, how did they retrieve it? Ewww....

    May 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
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