Jon Orders, the pilot in a fatal hang-gliding incident, has publicly apologized to the family and friends of 27-year-old Lenami Godinez-Avila who fell to her death during a tandem flight on April 28.
“My intention was to give Lenami an amazing adventure and lots of smiles, but I failed in such a major way,” Orders said in a statement he read to Vancouver media late Monday.
Orders, 50, also announced that he “cannot and will not” return to hang-gliding, his “passion for nearly 20 years.”
“I want so much to relive that day and to have it turn out differently,” he said. “Lenami was someone’s daughter and that I find especially difficult to deal with.”
Orders’ own 12-year-old daughter was at the Mount Woodside launch site at the time of the tragic flight.
Orders said her presence added to his “panicked” decision to swallow a video camera memory card that recorded the flight.
“I want to apologize to Lenami’s family, to the police and the public for my panicked action of swallowing the memory card as I did,” he said. “My 12-year-old daughter was present that day and made the situation even more stressful at the time.”
Orders said he told the police what he had done “shortly afterwards” and gave them his “full cooperation” in retrieving the card.
Orders was charged with obstruction of justice for withholding the video evidence, and may face further charges depending on the outcome of an RCMP investigation.
Orders said in the statement that his thoughts go out to Lenami’s family and friends, and that he “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,” he said. “I fully appreciate that nothing I can say or do will ever make up for your loss.”
Orders also apologized to the hang-gliding and para-gliding community “for the negative attention I have brought upon them.”
“My only true intention in operating my tandem hand-gliding (sic) business was to introduce new people and bring new pilots to the sport which has been my passion for nearly 20 years,” he said.
“I have deep regrets that I may have in fact caused the opposite effect and I am extremely disappointed by that, ” he said.
“I have concluded that I cannot and will not return to hand (sic) gliding.”
Orders was released from custody a week ago on conditions that included a cash surety of $5,750 and surrendering passports and citizenship documents to court authorities.
No trial date has been set.