A 27-year-old woman from Mexico is dead after falling from a hang-glider just outside of Agassiz, B.C., Saturday.

Lenami Godinez, who was trying the sport for the first time on popular Mount Woodside in the Fraser Valley, apparently fell to her death just moments after takeoff.

Godinez and her Canadian boyfriend had hired a professional pilot to take her up in tandem but she somehow came loose from the harness and fell hundreds of metres.

"I watched her fall until I couldn't see her anymore," said Nicole McLearn, who witnessed the accident.

McLearn says Godinez's run off the mountain looked awkward, not unusual for a first-time hang-glider, but in the air something was clearly wrong — Godinez was wearing her harness but it was no longer attached to the glider.

"He was horizontal but she was now hanging vertically, and it looked like in essence she had him in a bear hug around the chest area," McLearn said.

"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 pilots shoes in the process."

'Very unusual'

Officials have not released the name of the pilot, but CBC News has learned his name is Jon Orders, a hang-glider with 16 years of experience who became a certified tandem instructor three years ago.

The cause of the crash has not been determined, but officials say it could be anything from equipment failure to pilot error.

"This is a very unusual accident. We've never witnessed this kind of accident in the past," said Neil Brewer with Kent Harrison Search and Rescue.

"[They] fly an awful lot. They're a very safe community, they're very well organized, they're very professional, but we do see two to three accidents a year. So far, this is the third accident already this season, which is very unusual."

Police, along with the sport's governing body and WorkSafeBC, are investigating.

Godinez had lived in Canada for nine years and worked as an administrator for the provincial government.