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William Jon Orders, Hang Glider Pilot, Has Given Up Evidence, Say Police

05/04/2012 05:36 EDT | Updated 07/04/2012 05:12 EDT
Vancouver Hang Gliding/BC Daily Buzz/LinkedIn
CHILLIWACK, B.C. - Police in British Columbia now have a memory card allegedly swallowed by a hang gliding pilot in the moments after his passenger plunged to her death, a piece of evidence that will allow officers to move forward with their investigation into what happened.

William (Jon) Orders was granted bail Friday on a charge of obstruction of justice in connection with accusations he gulped down the data disk to block the probe, having expelled it from his system sometime in the past two days.

He had voluntarily remained in custody while both his lawyer and the Crown waited for his body to co-operate.

"We have processes in place in order to try and extract what's been on the card," Const. Tracy Wolbeck said outside Chilliwack provincial court, while declining to elaborate.

"The RCMP's priority at this time now is exclusively to focus on answering the questions that we all have, particularly that of the (victim's) family."

Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, and her boyfriend were celebrating their two-year anniversary with the hang gliding experience, which was to take them soaring over B.C.'s scenic Fraser Valley.

Orders, a 16-year hang glider, was manning the tandem ride.

Only 30 seconds into their flight, she tumbled loose from her harness and plummeted 300 metres to her death while her boyfriend witnessed the fall.

The certified pilot's website advertises that flights will be video recorded with an onboard digital camera.

Evidence given to a judge at Friday's bail hearing around what allegedly happened is under a publication ban.

The judge ruled Orders could be released on his own recognizance on $5,750 bail. He must hand over his passports, refrain from operating a hang glider or paraglider and abide by other usual conditions while out of custody.

The tired-looking 50-year-old cast his eyes downward and spoke in a soft New Zealand accent when addressing the judge during his hearing.

Crown lawyer Lori Stevens said outside court Orders has upwards of three passports for New Zealand, the U.K. and Australia, but couldn't confirm if he's a Canadian citizen.

She said she's waiting on the RCMP to know whether further charges will be laid.

Wolbeck suggested that's possible.

"This has obviously been a very unique case for us and we can't lose sight of the fact that somebody lost their life," she said.

"We'll have to see where the evidence leads us."

Orders' lawyer Laird Cruickshank declined to speak to media after the hearing, but has said his client is co-operating with police.

Neil MacKenzie, a spokesman for B.C.'s Criminal Justice Branch, said the maximum sentence for attempting to obstruct justice is two years if the Crown proceeds by indictment.

He said Orders' next court appearance has been put over to Monday.

Godinez-Avila clung to Orders' body when she slipped from the hang gliding equipment just after takeoff, but simply couldn't hang on. She pulled off his shoe as she lost her grip.

Police say her parents have arrived in B.C. from Mexico in the wake of the 27-year-old's death.

"They've come to Canada in search of answers," Wolbeck said. "To provide some clarity regarding the death of their daughter we have a team of experienced investigators committed to finding those answers."

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