A 27-year-old woman fell to her death while she was hang-gliding Saturday and the pilot she was doing a tandem with has been charged - with swallowing evidence. Making her first jump ever, Lenami Godinez fell 300 metres after becoming detached.
The pilot, William Jonathan Orders, has been in custody since the tragedy and is charged with obstruction of justice. Global News in Vancouver obtained copies of affidavits filed against Orders in a B.C. court indicating he is charged with swallowing a memory card with footage of the event on it.
Hang-gliding pilot charged in death
It happened at a popular Canadian hang-gliding site, Mt. Woodside near Agassiz, B.C., about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Vancouver. Horrified onlookers watched as, shortly after launching, Godinez became detached from the hang-glider and tried desperately to hang on to Orders. She grabbed his chest but slipped further down his body as he tried to get purchase on her harness; she slipped all the way down to his feet and held onto his boots momentarily before pulling at least one off as she fell to her death.
Canadian RCMP won't comment on the specifics of the charge against Orders. "All we can tell you about the charge is that he obstructed justice," RCMP Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth told media. "At this point, we are still in the early part of the investigation. There is still a large number of unanswered questions."
Hollingsworth admitted Orders was being looked at for withholding evidence that may indicate a crime had taken place. "The charge is related to the allegation that he withheld potential key evidence which could help determine whether he played a role in any wrongdoing,"
Hang-gliding: Pilot to ensure safety
Orders, 50, is considered a very experienced hang-gliding pilot and owns and operates his own company, Vancouver Hang Gliding. It would have been his responsibility to ensure that Godinez was properly attached to the hang-glider before they launched.
A spokesperson for the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Assoc. of Canada, Jason Warner, was quoted in the Vancouver Province as saying that "at this point, it is being looked at as if it was pilot error or equipment error." Warner said he did not believe such a death had occurred previously in the entire country.
Godinez, from Mexico, had been living and working in B.C. for some years. Her boyfriend bought her the hang-gliding experience as a gift for their anniversary; he was on the scene, prepared to glide next, and filmed her launch but stopped filming as it became apparent she was in trouble. It's not known if it was the boyfriend's memory card that RCMP believe Orders swallowed.
Orders is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning.