BC hang glider pilot accused of eating memory card apologizes to victim's family
Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER - When hang glider pilot William Orders set out to take a young woman soaring through the skies over scenic British Columbia last month, his goal was to give her an "amazing adventure" and "lots of smiles."
Instead the 50-year-old acknowledged he "failed in a major way" on Monday, just over two weeks since Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, plummeted to her death.
Orders delivered a short statement in his first public appearance since getting bail in connection with a charge he attempted to obstruct justice into the investigation by swallowing a memory card.
"I want so much to relive that day and to have it turn out differently," he said of the accident in a statement obtained by The Canadian Press.
"I will be left with the events constantly going through my mind, and that I will have to endure forever. Please believe me when I say I am sincerely and deeply sorry."
Orders was arrested two days after the April 28 accident, and remained in custody for another week while police and lawyers waited for the data disk to pass through his system.
RCMP say the disk may contain footage of what happened from the video camera that was aboard the glider.
"I would like to apologize to Lenami's family, to the police and the public for my panicked action of swallowing the memory card as I did," Orders said.
He said his impulsive behaviour was triggered by "overwhelming stress" that included the presence of his 12-year-old daughter on the field, where the tandem flight was supposed to land.
"I disclosed to the police myself shortly afterwards what I had done with the memory card," he said.
"From that point on I offered my full co-operation in ensuring the retrieval of the card."
Orders said he now realizes his actions caused the tragedy to drag out unnecessarily for the woman's family and friends, which he regrets.
He also apologized for bringing negative attention to the hang gliding and para-gliding communities. He said the true intention of his business what to introduce new people and pilots to "the sport which has been my passion for nearly 20 years."
"I have concluded that I cannot and will not return to hang gliding," he said.
The man's lawyer, Laird Cruickshank, said his client did not take any questions after reading his statement. Orders is due back in court June 18.
The man is a fully certified pilot who has competed in hang gliding competitions around the world.
Police have said they will attempt to view the footage on the memory card, and see where the evidence leads their investigation.
Godinez-Avila's boyfriend purchased the gliding adventure over B.C.'s Fraser Valley to celebrate their two-year anniversary. He was watching and waiting for his own turn when the woman tumbled loose.
Her body was found about eight hours later.
Last changed: May 14. 2012 7:32PM