B.C. hang-glider pilot apologizes for fatal flight
Pilot Jon Orders says he swallowed video memory card in a panic
The pilot in a fatal B.C. hang-glider incident has publicly apologized to the victim's family, saying he "failed in such a major way" during the tragic flight.
"Please believe me when I say I am sincerely and deeply sorry," Jon Orders said in a brief meeting with news media in Vancouver Monday.
Orders, 50, was the pilot on a tandem hang-glider flight April 28 in the Fraser Valley just east of Vancouver during which passenger Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, fell to her death from a height of about 300 metres.
"Every day my thoughts go out to how Lenami's family and friends must be feeling," Orders said.
Order also apologized for swallowing a video memory card of the fatal flight, which he said he did in a panic after the flight, but which he quickly admitted to police.
"I would like to apologize to [the victim's] family, to the police and the public for my panicked action of swallowing the memory card as I did," he said. "I disclosed to police myself shortly afterwards what I had done with the memory card, as a result of the overwhelming stress I was under."
Orders was charged with obstruction of justice in connection with the memory card.
Orders had a camera mounted on his hang-glider that recorded video during flights that passengers could keep as souvenirs of the trip.
RCMP kept Orders in custody and under close scrutiny until the memory card passed through his digestive system. The card was recovered several days later, but RCMP have not revealed its contents.
Witnesses to the fatal flight said Godinez Avila fell about 30 seconds into the flight, first slipping off the hang-glider, then losing her grip after desperately trying to hang on to Orders’ legs.
"My intention was to give Lenami an amazing adventure and lots of smiles but I failed in such a major way," Orders said. "I want so much to relive that day and to have it turn out differently."
He refused to take questions after reading the statement, which did not explain what went wrong during the flight.
Orders has 16 years experience as a hang-glider pilot and became a certified tandem hang-gliding instructor in 2009.