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William (Jon) Orders, the pilot involved in a tragic hang-gliding accident near Agassiz, B.C. April 28. (vancouverhanggliding.ca/vancouverhanggliding.ca)
William (Jon) Orders, the pilot involved in a tragic hang-gliding accident near Agassiz, B.C. April 28. (vancouverhanggliding.ca/vancouverhanggliding.ca)

Hang-glider pilot has 'remorse' over passenger's death, lawyer says Add to ...

A hang-glider pilot whose 27-year-old passenger dropped to her death during a flight over British Columbia's Fraser Valley has repeatedly expressed “remorse” for the tragedy, says his lawyer.

William (Jon) Orders was freed from custody Monday after spending a week behind bars on accusations he swallowed a digital video disk that's considered potential evidence in the young woman's death.

“He's disclosed to police the events surrounding the memory card and he's been co-operative with them since that time,” Laird Cruickshank, Mr. Orders' lawyer, said outside Provincial Court.

The lawyer said his client may wish to express his regrets to the family at a later date.

“He's expressed his remorse to me on an ongoing basis and I think he really needs some time now to get out of custody and process things in the appropriate fashion.”

Lenami Godinez-Avila was in a tandem glider flight with Mr. Orders on April 28 when she slipped out of her harness 30 seconds after takeoff and plummeted 300 metres to the ground.

Mr. Orders, a Burnaby resident, was arrested last week on a charge of attempting to obstruct justice by swallowing the memory card.

The 50-year-old certified hang-gliding instructor voluntarily stayed in custody for several extra days last week while police waited for the card to pass through his system.

Police consider the card potential key evidence in the case, and are now examining whether it contains footage that could explain what led to Ms. Godinez-Avila's death.

RCMP Constable Tracy Wolbeck couldn't say whether the data on the card was still intact, or if police expect to lay any further charges.

“We have to wait and see where the evidence leads us once we extract the data from the card,” she said.

Mr. Orders, a 16-year flying veteran who has competed around the world, advertises that hang glider riders will get a video of their adventure as part of their flight package.

He has been granted release on $5,750 bail and must not contact several people related to the hang-gliding community or operate a glider while he's free.

The man disguised himself in a black hooded sweatshirt and ran from media on leaving court Monday afternoon, jumping into a waiting van with friends that peeled out of the parking lot.

“It's been obviously a traumatic incident for him and it's difficult to deal with, particularly when you've been in custody for the length of time he's been,” Mr. Cruickshank said.

“Hopefully he'll be able to deal with things more effectively now being outside.”

Mr. Orders is a permanent resident of Canada and has surrendered two regular passports and an emergency passport - for New Zealand, the U.K. and Australia - all of which are expired, as part of his bail conditions, Mr. Cruickshank said.

The lawyer said he has no information on whether his client may face more charges in the death. He declined to say what Mr. Orders has told him about what happened.

Ms. Godinez-Avila was celebrating her two-year anniversary with her boyfriend when she went soaring as a passenger in the flight with Mr. Orders before falling.

Her body was discovered about eight hours later in a clearcut area. Friends gathered at the site for a memorial over the weekend to mourn.

Orders' next court appearance is expected on June 18.

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