Pilot error likely to blame in hang-gliding death

One day after an independent review concluded pilot error was likely to blame for a deadly hang-gliding accident, Mounties have announced they are continuing their own investigation into the tragedy.

AGASSIZ, B.C. — One day after an independent review concluded pilot error was likely to blame for a deadly hang-gliding accident, Mounties have announced they are continuing their own investigation into the tragedy.

RCMP Const. Tracy Wolbeck said in a news release issued Thursday that police have reviewed a memory card thought to be related to the April 28 tandem hang-gliding death of 27-year-old Lenami Godinez-Avila.

Godinez-Avila fell about 300 metres, moments after taking off with pilot William Orders from Mount Woodside in Agassiz, B.C.

The flight was purchased by her boyfriend who wanted to mark the couple’s two-year anniversary and was watching and waiting for his own turn when the tragedy occurred.

“We are not in a position to discuss the content of the information that has been retrieved from the card as this is evidence that could potentially be before the court,” said Wolbeck.

Wolbeck said the evidence could be used in the April 15, 2013 trial of Orders, who was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly swallowing the card from his camera after the accident.

He does not face any other charges. He had been held in custody after the incident until the memory card passed through his system.

Orders’ lawyer, Laird Cruickshank, could not be reached for comment.

Late Wednesday, the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada announced that its own investigation determined human error, not weather or faulty equipment, caused the tragedy.

According to the report, the passenger’s harness was not connected to the glider during take off, and a “hang-check” was not performed, even though Orders had taken a tandem re-certification course just weeks before.

“The investigation was unable to determine the reason for the omission of the critical pre-launch safety checks,” it stated.

The report notes, though, that multiple distractions may have resulted in a breakdown of standard operating procedures.

Bruce Busby, vice-president of the association, said Orders was celebrating his 50th birthday on the day of the tragedy and his daughter was watching.

Godinez-Avila and her boyfriend were also participating in flights at the time.

The association’s investigation came to the conclusions after examining the passenger’s and pilot’s harnesses, the glider and talking to witnesses, said Busby who noted Orders is a member of the association but is currently suspended.

The report didn’t include statements from Orders

Following the accident, Orders issued a statement through Cruickshank, apologizing to Godinez-Avila’s family and friends as well as the general public.

He also told reporters in May that he was under “overwhelming stress” after the accident.

Orders said his goal was to give Godinez-Avila an “amazing adventure and lots of smiles, but because he failed in such a major way,” he has decided never to return to hang gliding.

Cruickshank said in May the incident was traumatic for his client and difficult to deal with.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Government of Alberta has identified 1,828 new cases and 15 new COVID-19-related deaths, which brings the provincial death toll to 590. (File photo)
Alberta identifies 1,828 new COVID-19 cases on Friday

Central zone has 1,251 active cases

Higher sales of cannabis helped Canadian farmers come out in the green. (Black Press Media File)
Drumheller RCMP lay charge for unlawfully distributing cannabis

A joint forces investigation involving the AGLC investigation team partnered with Drumheller… Continue reading

Three weapons have been seized and four people are facing charges following a police operation in central Alberta. (Photo contributed by RCMP)
RCMP, Lacombe Police seize loaded guns, arrest four people

Four people have been arrested and multiple prohibited firearms are off the… Continue reading

The Salvation Army's 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign includes a new $5 tap feature for pandemic-friendly donations. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Salvation Army officers safe, touchless options for Kettle donation this year

The Salvation Army in Red Deer needs help. Kettle donations are needed… Continue reading

The Central Alberta Humane Society is looking for volunteers. (Photo contributed)
Central Alberta Humane Society looking for volunteers

The Central Alberta Humane Society is in need of volunteers Dec. 11… Continue reading

Dan Cochrane, senior pastor at CrossRoads Church. Contributed photo
CrossRoads Church closes its doors for two weeks after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

CrossRoads Church made the decision to cancel in-house services for two weeks… Continue reading

Blank Unemployment Benefits form
Red Deer jobless rate down slightly in November

Red Deer’s unemployment rate dropped by half a per cent in November.… Continue reading

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia's deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting health during pandemic in B.C., survey shows

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says a survey on… Continue reading

A woman pays her respects to victims of a mass shooting at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Three charged, including spouse, with supplying ammunition to N.S. mass shooter

HALIFAX — Three people, including the killer’s former spouse, have been charged… Continue reading

Downtown Iqaluit, Nunavut, is shown after 2 p.m. sunset on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Nunavut will look to get the Moderna vaccine once it is available in Canada. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says Moderna is preferred because the cold storage and shipping of the Pfizer vaccine is too difficult in the northern territory. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Emma Tranter
Moderna COVID vaccine best for Nunavut because of storage, shipping: top doctor

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Nunavut is looking to get the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine… Continue reading

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau affirms farmers’ right to demonstrate after India criticizes his remarks

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy… Continue reading

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada’s COVID-19 case count passes 400,000 mark

OTTAWA — Canada has now recorded more than 400,000 cases of COVID-19… Continue reading

Longtime central Alberta politician Judy Gordon has passed away. Photo courtesy of the City of Lacombe
Former Lacombe Mayor Judy Gordon passes away

Gordon also served as MLA for Lacombe-Stettler before retiring from politics in 2010

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro (left) and Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw pose for a photo after they received a flu shot earlier this year. Hinshaw has been encouraging Albertans to get a flu shot this season. As of Nov. 28, Central zone has already administered 122,314 doses of the flu vaccine, compared to 126,288 last season. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s flu vaccine distribution already closing in on last year’s totals

Central zone has administered 122,000 doses of influenza vaccine

Most Read