Glider Pilot in Fatal Accident Accused of Swallowing Evidence

Authorities are trying to determine why a hang gliding instructor appears to have swalled his camera's memory card after his passenger plunged hundreds of feet to her death.

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If you weren’t already hesitant about strapping yourself onto an aluminum airframe and gliding thousands of feet into the sky, you will be now.In a horrifying accident last Saturday, a woman in western Canada fell almost 1,000 feet to her death during a tandem hang-gliding flight with an instructor.

27-year-old Lenami Godinez-Avila had been given the hang-gliding lesson as a gift from her boyfriend, who was on the ground taping the flight. What would initially seem to be a malfunction with equipment or a harness is now evolving into a different case entirely. Investigators looking into the cause of the crash are now accusing the instructor of having attempted to hide key evidence by swallowing it.

CNN reports:

“Investigators trying to determine why she fell are accusing the instructor of trying to hide what might be a key piece of evidence a possible onboard video recording of the flight in his digestive tract.

William Jonathan Orders, 50, was arrested Saturday and charged this week with obstructing justice, accused of swallowing a memory card from a video camera that accompanied the pair on the flight near Agassiz, British Columbia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

X-rays confirmed the card was in Orders’ body, and authorities as of Thursday morning still were waiting for the object to pass, RCMP Constable Tracy Wolbeck said. Investigators hope to recover the object.”

A witness told the CBC that she saw Godinez-Avila wearing a harness, but that it wasn’t attached to the glider. She tried to hang on to Orders, but eventually slid down his body and could no longer hold on.

Orders may have swallowed the memory card in a panic, but it also highly suspicious behavior, given that this is a particularly unusual accident. Godinez-Avila somehow became detached from the hang glider, but authorities are not yet sure how she got detached; it may or may not have to do with Orders.

The investigation is continuing. “It’s difficult to speculate” whether the memory card will have retrievable video, Constable Wolbeck said. “We’re just going to have to wait and see.”

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