'Hang on! I love you!' hang glider flier's boyfriend screamed
Hang-gliding enthusiasts gathered at the site of a fellow flier's death over the weekend as witnesses recalled the last words the victim's boyfriend yelled during her deadly flight over British Columbia.
Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, was on her first flight on a hang glider on April 28, when she fell 1,000 feet to her death in a forest clearing near Agassiz, British Columbia.
Fellow hang glider pilots, most of whom had never met the woman, got together in the clearing on Saturday, erecting a cross and planting a cherry tree as a memorial, Canada's CTV reported.
"We embraced her as our own, and so because of that, the deep sorrow is like losing someone close to us," said a tearful Jason Warner, a safety officer for the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada.
Meanwhile, Nicole McLearn, a witness to the accident, told Post Media News in Canada that Godinez-Avila and her boyfriend were "joyous" as they watched other hang gliders take to the air that Saturday.
Another witness, Frederic Bourgault, said Godinez-Avila flashed a big smile as she prepared for the tandem flight with instructor William Jonathan Orders.
Both witnesses said as Orders and Godinez-Avila ran for their takeoff, something looked wrong, according to the Post report.
“Oh, she’s hanging low,” Bourgault told the Post he said out loud.
McLearn thought their silhouettes "didn't look right," according to the report.
McLearn told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that when the glider was in the air, Godinez-Avila appeared to be wearing her harness, but it wasn’t 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 told the CBC.
"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 pilot's shoes in the process," McLearn said.
Back at the launch site, Godinez-Avila's boyfriend watched her fall, according to the Post report.
“Lenami! Hang on! I love you!” he screamed, the Post reported.
She was in the air about 30 seconds before she fell.
After the flight, Orders was arrested and charged with obstructing justice. Police say he swallowed a memory card possibly containing video of the fatal accident.
He was granted bail on Friday after posting bond of 5,750 Canadian dollars, said Neil MacKenzie, communications counsel with the province's criminal justice branch.
The recording has since passed and is now in police custody, MacKenzie said. He declined comment on whether anything retrievable could be taken from the card.
Orders is expected to be released from custody on Monday, CTV reported.