Anyone reading the news today can’t help but notice that the Canadian and New Zealand justice systems are, quite literally, worlds apart.
Kiwi hang glider William Jonathan Orders ‘Jon Orders‘ age 51, caused the death of a young female student, Lenami Godinez-Avila (below), through criminal negligence after failing to hook her in properly to a tandem hang-glider before taking off.
The couple were hang-gliding in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley in April 2012 when not only did Jon Orders fail to secure her properly, but he also didn’t carry out a safety check, despite having
“18 years’ experience and recently completing a re-certification course.
After he landed, he swallowed a memory card containing a video of the incident, for which he was also charged with obstruction of justice, however this charge was stayed by the Crown…” source Stuff.co.nz
There was no mention of whether or not a drug test was carried out on him after the incident, or whether he was under the influence of any substance.
Orders still has a strong Kiwi accent.
He’s been sentenced to 5 months in jail, and 3 years probation during time which he’s not permitted to hang-glide.
Contrast that with NZ’s justice system and the high number of adventure tourism deaths caused through operator negligence over the years (some of whom were found with cannabis in their bodies). None of them resulted in the imprisonment of the person responsible, not a single one. Every time the NZ courts backed off issuing punitive sentences that would act as a deterrent to other errant operators.
Update 13 Feb 2014
There is speculation that Jon Orders could be deported from Canada back to his home New Zealand, where he had once been a hang gliding pilot before leaving for Canada.
He is known to have expired NZ, Australian and British passports but was applying for Canadian citizenship (using which valid passport?) at the time of the offence. What we’re seeing here is a profile of a man living at the edge of the law, who swallows evidence and runs from court houses.
The Canadian hang-gliding case has remarkable similarities to the death of another student, Catherine Peters, on the Ballance Bridge swing in New Zealand.
The company director of the bridge swing operation, Alistair McWhannell, was found guilty of manslaughter after admitting to “gross negligence” for not securing the rope that Catherine was swinging on. (Read Alistair McWhannell Guilty Of Manslaughter In Swing Bridge Death June 2010).
Despite the manslaughter conviction, McWhannell escaped a prison sentence for causing a “totally avoidable death”. He was instead sentenced to 400 hours community work and made to pay an insulting $10,000 NZ in reparations.
Dear reader, which country do you think takes adventure tourism safety more seriously, and which would you prefer to vacation in?
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