A New Zealand hang-glider pilot who failed to connect a woman
on a tandem flight, causing her to fall 300 metres to her
death, has been sentenced to five months in a Canadian jail.
William Jon Orders, 51, entered a guilty plea last week to a
charge of criminal negligence causing the death of Lenami
Godinez-Avila, 28, shortly after taking off for a flight
across British Columbia's Fraser Valley in April 2012,
Canadian media reported.
Orders did not hook Ms Godinez-Avila to the hang-glider and
also failed to conduct a required safety check before taking
off, despite having 18 years' experience and recently
completing a re-certification course.
After he landed, he swallowed a memory card containing a
video of the incident, for which he was also charged with
obstruction of justice, however this charge was stayed by the
The contents of the video were described to the court last
week, including details of how Ms Godinez-Avila desperately
tried in vain to cling on to the glider when she realised she
was not properly secured. It also shows Orders attempting to
clip her in, but she slips and plummets to her death, The
Globe and Mail reported.
Ms Godinez-Avila, a Mexican student at the University of
British Columbia, was celebrating an anniversary with her
Orders was sentenced to five months in jail, including three
years probation, during which time he will be banned from
hang-gliding and must educate others about the incident.
He has since given up hang-gliding and suffers from
post-traumatic stress disorder, the court heard.
Apologising to Ms Godinez-Avila's family after his guilty
plea, he said: "I did tandem hang-gliding to make people
proud of their accomplishments, that they may overcome fear
of height, or live their dream of flying like a bird. All
those previous flights mean nothing to me now."
- Patrice Dougan of APNZ