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. Babak from LA

    Kind of hard to accept. It is a very serious sport and the instructor should know better. Probably became routine to him ... Sad for all involved and specially the lady who lost her life.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gaucho420

    My heart goes out to her boyfriend...I cannot perceive the grief he must feel today and for the rest of his life. I count myself lucky to (knock on wood) never had to experience such a loss in my life, but I get goosebumps just thinking what he must be going through.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy Wilson

      Not long after I got my pilot's license there was story about an accident about 30 miles away. The new pilot was overflying his girlfriend and her family buzzing and showing out. During one of his passes he got slow and stalled right in front of them the news said and spiraled to his death. I later had met the girl thru the local college and was told by another pilot friend who she was. Another pilot not lonag after that stalled and crashed into Reelfoot Lake while family watched from shore. I always tried to fly safe...But remember these accidents so close to my flying area.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • h2vision

      mmm It could be that he swallowed it because it will show some advances he made on her and to protect himself from some problem just let her go ( I hope its not) but she is attractive and tandem flying is.........

      May 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Desert Resident

    Women are usually not into this sort of thing on their own.
    Did the boyfriend convince her to do it?
    Ladies, just say NO.

    May 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • JustMe

      You're kidding, right? I know personally a half dozen women who have done this on their own.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      What a totally s e x i s t thing to say... Many "modern" women are into this.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crymore

      Oh it was the man's fault eh? LOL.

      May 8, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • ksb

      What a stupid, ignorant, heartless thing to say...do you hate ALL men or just this heartbroken guy who wanted to do something nice for his girlfriend only to have it end in a terrible accident?

      May 8, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa J.

      How dare you disrespect this women's life by assuming she was not independent and courageous enough to make this decision on her own??

      May 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • bearfoot

      R U serious?

      May 15, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • FlyontheWall

      oh please you are a fool. That is nonsense!!!!! Woman compete up at the National Air Races as pilots, and at the top of the aerobatic world women win consistently against men, flying high performance aerobatic planes. PLEASE DO NOT SPREAD your awful ignorance, as it makes you look foolish.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kris

    We lived in the foothills of Colorado, and would sit on our deck and watch the hang gliders. We were told that the biggest risk is forgetting to attach the harness to the kite. Second biggest risk...heliocopter pilots getting too close wanting to watch, and the glider caught in the downdraft. Very sad, and sorry to hear of this.

    May 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      How do you make it up into the air if your harness isn't attached?

      May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      Nevermind – obviously I haven't tried this sport before – they jumped off a cliff...

      Absolutely horrific and heartbreaking.

      May 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff

    Jerk comments... Such a horrific way to die. RIP....

    May 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mary

    So did he forget to attach her harness?
    I love hang gliding.. But accidents do happen..
    A friends husband hit power lines.. Many years ago..

    May 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian p

      There is only "one" thing to check when taking up a passenger and that is to secure that person to the glider. What else was more important then that? Was he too busy checking out her rack or butt?

      May 15, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. fbiluner

    "Police say he swallowed a memory card possibly containing video of the fatal accident." ...hmm

    May 7, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. toadears

    Her first flight? How dumb of them to take her up over 1,000 feet. What did they expect? I have hang glided. It was very windy the day we took lessons and we got hurt. That was on sand dunes. It takes a lot of upper body strength to control one of these gliders.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sir ISaac Newton

    When are we going to serious about gravity laws?

    May 8, 2012 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • mikedenney

      Newton? I thought you were dead! Let us convene over your latest findings as soon as you find the time!
      jerk.

      May 9, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • FlyontheWall

      never, it is against the nature of human beings to do so. don't be a fool.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bubba

    I hope they went looking for that card with a big hose and a pump.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Never Disclosed

    How stupid.

    May 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Long Time Pilot

    I was a hang gliding instructor for about 10 years and this story is my worst nightmare. Whatever the cause of the accident the instructor is responsible. I don't know how he'll ever get another night's sleep. Of course my deepest condolences go to the family/friends of the poor girl who fell, but feel some sympathy for the instructor as well. His life is pretty much over now too.

    May 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mikedenney

    I reopened my WordPress account just to comment on this. I think the guide is to blame–he obviously knew her husband was on the ground waiting for the video, and that, after she died, so would the police. If the guide would have dropped the evidence over a large wooded area, he would be held then for deliberate destruction of evidence (or the Canadian counterpart). Also, I question his 'sincerity' in coming clean about swallowing the evidence; depending on exactly when he told authorities, he could have guessed it would have been partially digested by the time they 'retrieved it'. Cops should have given him ipecac to 'help things out', avoid the bile in his digestive tract (tell me Canada has ipecac), and cheat him of his guesswork, there. Sure would make for an easier retrieval, if done in a few minutes of learning what he did. So, extremely relevant here is how long it took him to 'spit it out'–er, admit (it looks like things actually went south instead).

    May 9, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Sharon

      Yes, Canada has Ipecac Syrup

      May 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David

    Ok Troll. You want comments on your post and you're getting one.
    Someone loses their LIFE and you make that comment? I pity anyone associated with you.

    May 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tim

    You should be ashamed of yourself. You have obviously never loved anyone.

    May 14, 2012 at 4:44 am | Report abuse |
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