May 15th, 2012
10:15 AM ET

Hang glider pilot apologizes for deadly flight

The pilot of a tandem hang glider from which a British Columbia woman fell to her death last month has apologized to the woman's family and said he won't return to the skies again.

"I failed in such a major way," William Jonathan Orders said in a statement he read Monday. "I want so much to relive that day and have it turn out differently."

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.

Witness Nicole 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.

"She was very brave and I'm sure loved by all," Orders said. "Lemani was someone's daughter and I find that especially difficult to deal with."

Orders said his own 12-year-old daughter was there when the accident happened, adding to the stress that led him to swallow a memory card containing video of the flight, something he called "my panicked action."

"I disclosed to police myself shortly afterwards what I had done with the memory card, as a result of the overwhelming stress I was under," he said. "I realize that my actions caused this matter to drag out unnecessarily for Lemani's family and friends, and for the police and for that I am deeply regretful."

Orders was charged with obstruction of justice for swallowing the memory card, which is now in the possession of police. They have not said if any evidence has been recovered from it. Orders is free after posting bond of 5,750 Canadian dollars.

Orders, 50, also apologized to those involved in hang gliding for the "negative attention" the incident had brought to the sport.

"My only true intention in operating my tandem hang gliding business was to introduce new people and bring new pilots to the sport which has been my passion for 20 years," he said. "I have deep regrets that I may have in fact caused the opposite effect.

"I have concluded that I cannot and will not return to hang gliding," Orders said.

Orders did not take questions after reading his statement.

Victim's boyfriend screamed, "Hang on! I love you!"

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Filed under: Canada • Crime
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Glynne1964

    An apology? Really? That makes eveything all better now?
    I really hope that there is something on that memory card to explain exactly what happened. The family deserves answers & the public needs to know if they'd be safe flying with him.

    May 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John the Electrician

    He didn't hook her in, it's all his fault. I would have destroyed the memory card too. Facts are the facts. Video changes nothing except not to feed the blood lust of the general public. He didn't do it on purpose and of course he's sorry. If you put your life into someones hands and they screw up, YOUR DEAD. Any doctors on here?

    May 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      it's highly possible that he unhooked her in flight. That would be murder. There's no way she was unhooked from the beginning of the flight, that harness is the only thing holding you from the moment you lift off. Anyone instructing and giving tandem flights with that much experience would never take off without being sure everything was in order. I have thousands of flight hours and I don't buy that he forgot to hook her up.

      May 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. our home in native land

    This guy should wake up every day praising the lord that this happened in canada and not the us. If that happened here he'd owe their family every cent he'll ever make plus interest.

    May 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ibitz

      What makes you think there won't be a civil suit?

      May 16, 2012 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe Providence

      It's just money though – he owes them a human life – he gets to wake up every day to praise the lord – Canada allows law suits too. Only an “faux-American” (Republican) would actually use this as a tort reform argument.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. flyboy7588

    Shear stupidity. So much for going thru the safety checklist.

    May 15, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Billy274633

    Just before taking off the woman yelled out, "Race you to the ground...loser eats the memory card."

    May 16, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. jbloe

    Very sad for everyone. No matter how I look at this, I have a hard time imagining how everyone feels. How she felt. And now how all the survivors feel. I am sure Mr Orders is sincerly sorry for the event. My heart goies out to her family, friends and Mr Orders.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
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