According to reports, 27-year-old Lenami Godinez-Avila and her boyfriend David were at Mount Woodside in the Fraser Valley waiting for their turn to fly in tandem with an instructor on a hang-glider. The couple was there after David purchased hang-gliding lessons as part of their anniversary celebrations.
Both got suited up and Godinez-Avila was paired with Jon Orders, an instructor with 16 years experience. She went before David, who was filming the event, but witnesses say that immediately after taking off they could tell something was not right.
Normally when flying with an instructor, you are beside them, strapped into a harness that was hooked to the glider. But in this case, Godinez-Avila was hanging vertically with her feet dangling. She used her upper body to hold on at first, before getting Orders into a bear hug as he tried to wrap his legs around her. Unfortunately, she couldn’t hold on.
“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,” said Nicole McLearn, who witnessed the horrific event.
Thirty seconds after she and Order were airborne, Godinez-Avila would plunge 1,000 feet to the ground below, landing on her back. A very distraught David turned in the direction she had fallen and began screaming to her.
“Lenami!” he screamed in the direction she was last seen. “Hang on! I love you!”
It would take hours for searchers to locate her body where it had landed in a clear-cut plateau. Other gliding enthusiast have since gathered and planted a cherry blossom tree at the spot in her memory.
Orders told investigators he tried in vain to grab Godinez-Avila’s harness and latch her to his legs and that he regretted not flying back to the hill when he first noticed something was wrong. I would imagine he’s also regretting the stupid stunt he pulled afterwards in an attempt to avoid getting into trouble.
He was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice after he swallowed a camera’s memory card that possibly contained pre-flight video. He eventually passed the memory card and it is now in the custody of police. My guess is that Orders knew that the video may show that a “hang check” was not conducted properly before he took off with Godinez-Avila.
He has been released from custody, and his instructor certification has been suspended.Tags: Accident, Canada, Crime, hang gliding, Jon Orders, Lenami Godinez-Avila, obstruction