Hang-glide pilot could be deported
A New Zealand hang-glider pilot convicted of criminal negligence for causing a woman to fall to her death may be deported from Canada.
William Jon Orders, 51, failed to connect Lenami Godinez-Avila, 28, during a tandem flight and caused her to fall 300 metres to her death. Orders was sentenced to five months' jail yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to criminal negligence causing the death of Godinez-Avila.
New Zealand Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association president Evan Lamberton said he understood Orders had been a pilot in New Zealand before he left for Canada.
"We'd had contact with the Canadian Association asking us about his licensing history, which our administrator supplied to them," he said.
"From memory, it dated back some years ago since he'd last been licensed in New Zealand."
Orders had been applying for Canadian citizenship when the incident occurred, Canadian newspaper the Chilliwack Times reported.
The criminal conviction meant he might be deported after serving his sentence, though there was a provision to appeal on humanitarian grounds when a sentence was for less than six months.
Order's lawyer, Lori Stevens, said he held expired New Zealand, Australian and British passports.
Godinez-Avila died on April 28, 2012, after plummeting from the hang-glider shortly after taking off for a flight across British Columbia's Fraser Valley.
A judge heard testimony from Orders who said he did not hook Godinez-Avila to the glider and also failed to conduct a required safety check before launching.
After he landed, he swallowed a memory card containing video of the incident. He later apologised for this.
Orders was taking Godinez-Avila and her boyfriend on a hang-gliding tour. Her boyfriend had bought the flights as an anniversary present. Thirty seconds in she came free of her harness.
Godinez-Avila clung to Orders' body when she slipped from the hang-gliding equipment just after takeoff, but couldn't hang on.
She pulled off his shoe as she lost her grip, before falling to her death in front of Orders and her boyfriend. Her body was found about eight hours later.
Orders has given up hang-gliding as a result of the incident and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the court heard.
- © Fairfax NZ News