The British Columbia hang-glider pilot whose passenger fell to her death over B.C.’s Fraser Valley will remain in custody while a memory card he's alleged to have swallowed passes through his body.
A bail hearing for William Orders was put off for two days on Wednesday by mutual consent of both his defence lawyer and the Crown, while they wait for the card to be expelled.
RCMP allege the 50-year-old swallowed the memory card that stored digital video of the flight he was manning when Lenami Godinez-Avila tumbled out of her harness only seconds after take off.
“We have confirmed that the memory card is still inside,” Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth said outside Chilliwack provincial court.
“There have been a series of X-rays taken. ...We're just in the waiting process here.”
Mr. Orders has been in custody at the Agassiz RCMP detachment since his arrest Monday on the charge of obstructing justice in relation to the probe into the 27-year-old's death. It's unusual for police to hold someone on that particular charge.
Mr. Orders wore a green short-sleeved shirt and blue jeans as he appeared in court and kept his back turned to the gallery during his first court appearance, which lasted only a few minutes.
Crown lawyer Lori Stevens said they could only wait for the evidence.
“It's a question of getting the right evidence and getting that to defence counsel so they know what position they need to take,” explained Ms. Stevens outside court.
The judge agreed to put the bail hearing off until Friday afternoon.
Mr. Orders' lawyer Laird Cruickshank would only say his client is being as co-operative as possible.
“He's dealing with difficult circumstances, obviously,” Mr. Cruickshank said outside court.
Police have been transporting the man back and forth to the general hospital in Chilliwack, east of Vancouver, for X-rays, Cpl. Hollingsworth said.
“He is being monitored,” she said, adding she hadn't heard any concerns for his mental well-being.
She couldn't give any further details around when the card was consumed or how police learned that had happened.
“I think everything happened pretty quickly,” she said.
Neither Cpl. Hollingsworth nor Ms. Stevens could say what kind of shape the evidence might be in after it passes through the man's digestive system.
Mr. Orders is a fully certified hang-gliding pilot and instructor who's been soaring around the world for 16 years.
His business website, Vancouver Hang Gliding, boasts that photos and video are available when people purchase a tandem hang-gliding trip.
Video on the website shows a clear shot from the glider wing of a pilot and client taking off in tandem and flying over B.C.’s scenic Fraser Valley.
His tandem hang gliding experiences cost $210 on weekends.
“Photos and video are available using a specially mounted camera pole that captures you, your pilot and the amazing scenery around you,” said the website sales pitch.
When police announced the charge on Monday, they said Mr. Orders was accused of withholding “key evidence.”
Ms. Godinez-Avila was celebrating an anniversary with her boyfriend last Saturday with the hang-gliding excursion.
Witnesses recount that just seconds into the flight the young woman fell 300 metres to her death. Police have said her boyfriend was waiting his turn for a ride when he watched her fall from the hang glider.
The young woman's body was found about eight hours later in a forest clear-cut below Mount Woodside, a popular spot for hang gliders to launch from above the valley.
Police have said they seized video taken by the boyfriend on the ground and the hang glider is also evidence and has been secured for the investigation.
Jason Warner, with the Hang-Gliders and Para-gliders Association of Canada, said that he spoke with Mr. Orders minutes after Ms. Godinez-Avila fell from the glider.
Mr. Orders told him he knew something was wrong almost immediately and tried desperately to hang on to the woman, who clung to his body and then slipped down his legs, taking one of Mr. Orders' shoes with her, Mr. Warner said in an earlier interview.