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. nospecialtreatmentHOMELESS

    About 220,000 women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq in roles ranging from helicopter pilots to police officers. Last year, 7.8% of women in the military got a divorce, compared with 3% of military men, according to Pentagon statistics. Among the military's enlisted corps, nearly 9% of women saw their marriages end, compared with a little more than 3% of the men.

    Like all divorces, the results can be a sense of loss and a financial blow. But for military women, a divorce can be a breaking point — even putting them at greater risk for homelessness down the road.

    May 15, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • JMB

      And ????????

      May 15, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Albert911emt

      How does any of that relate to the article?

      May 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • sneekasnocks

      Probably because they were married to military men, who, like mine, became a ptsd rage induced lunatic who hits women and kids. Luckily, the his command continues to cover-up his abuse, even though it's been recorded....and my command made me suffer dearly for reporting the abuse. So there's one reason for the divorce rate. Lots more just like me. Thanks Military!

      May 15, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric of Reseda

      What are TALKING about?!? And why here?!? Are you with the parrot joke guy?!?

      May 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • dion


      May 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cmmrc

    To which the shop owner replies, "to be honest I have never seen it do a thing, but without its orders the other two wouldn’t do a thing either!"

    May 15, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  3. Nick Bruiser

    Time for him to be sorry in jail

    May 15, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  4. Gunsmoke Jackson

    Nice insight on hang gliding, idiots.

    May 15, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Albert911emt

    How does your joke relate to the article?

    May 15, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. farleyjc

    How could anyone with 5 minutes experience not know to hook the jacket to the glider? I am shocked that she did not know better. He is hooked in and I am not???

    May 15, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      It shouldn't be up to her, as the professional. You shouldn't be the one to make sure you are hooked in correctly on a rollercoaster, should you? Maybe she thought that he hooked it.

      May 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • jane

      Yeah, buyer beware.

      May 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Gosh. Do you think the person who had never been hang-gliding before maybe thought the expert who had done it for 20 years and ran the company maybe knew what he was doing?


      Do y'think?

      May 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nospecialtreatmentHOMELESS

    Former Army Sgt. Daniela Gibson, an Afghan war veteran, knows that first-hand. Gibson, 24, spent more than four years apart from her military husband and thousands of dollars on long-distance phone calls as they each did war deployments, training and moves. She said it's tough to not feel insecure about your own marriage as you watch others falling apart around you and see fellow service members cheating on their spouses, which she says is all too frequent during deployments.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. noteabags

    "...adding to the stress that led him to swallow a memory card containing video of the flight..."

    You accidentally swalled it? Did it accidentally get in your mouth too?

    May 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Where does the article say he accidentally swallowed it? Must be some hidden text somewhere...

      May 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pander Bear

    "Panicked action" in swallowing the video card or "Covering your tuckus"?

    May 15, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      Yeah cuz realizing u forgot to hook her up as she is holding onto your legs about to fall to her death doesnt effect u in any way to do loony things

      May 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • jane

      human nature. I'm sure a thousand thoughts were going through his mind. Probably didn't want kids to make it a viral video.

      May 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. charles

    This is a work place accident. It will be investigated and recommendations made. Jail time NO as it was an accident there was no intent on his part. Insurance will be paid and new training will be implimented. Remember no matter what, this is a dangerous sport and you accept the risk.
    Yes he hide the video stupid but people make bad judgement under stress.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      No it was not an 'accident'. It was negligent homicide. Negligence. Avoidable had not it been for carelessness.

      May 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • dion

      Yeah we should put you on a high bridge and NOT attach the bungee cord and say "It's a risk you should be aware of" as we push off the bridge.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BOMBO ©

    How did they arrive at $5750 bond?

    May 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • jane

      Half the distance to the goal.

      May 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brown bomber

    "They have not said if any evidence has been recovered from it."

    A "stool pigeon" has related that the cops are still trying to find a volunteer for this odoriferous task.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    My great grandfather was a sheriff in a small rural Oklahoma county. He shot shot in a bank robbery before I was born. But my grandfather was a deputy in the same county several years later. He would often take us into the old jail and lock us up. It has since been turned into a WWII museum. One thing the jail featured was a sewer filtering system for the cells. It was a rather elaborate filtration system that sifted out any solid objects. Each cell had its own filter so they knew where the item came from. It was used up to the 80's to filter out bags of drugs that had been swallowed. The new jail only has one cell designated as an evidence cell. It uses a very similar filter system.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • jane

      Thanks for the filter system info. That is very interesting.

      May 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Swimmer

      Sounds like a useful system. Are they common? Why did they stop using this one in Oklahoma?

      May 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Randall Bart

    Swallowing the card was clearly destruction of evidence. He hadn't checked her harness completely, and was afraid of what the card showed. Assuming he had done nothing illegal to that point he still needs six month in jail for obstruction of justice in the civil case.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Frank Nigliazzo

    The woman's death is very tragic; but it's also an accident. The hang glider pilot was negligent in not ensuring her harness was properly attached to the glider, but there was no intent to harm the passenger. The "panicked act" of swallowing the memory card was an attempt to conceal evidence of his own negligence. Did his negligence and the attempt to conceal evidence rise to the level of criminal behavior for which jail time would be appropriate? That's for a judge or a jury to determine. The $5,750 bond does seem somewhat odd, but I'm sure there's a rational explanation to which we're not privy.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
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