Both the coroner and hang gliding experts are baffled as to how a young woman fell 300 metres to her death while on a tandem flight in the Fraser Valley.
The accident on Saturday afternoon claimed the life of Lenami Dafne Godinez, 27, who has lived in Canada for nine years since moving from Mexico. Godinez lived in Vancouver and worked as an administrator with the provincial government.
Godinez was with her boyfriend and it was the first time she had ever been on a hang glider.
But according to Jason Warner, a spokesman for the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada (HPAC), the pilot was very experienced.
Warner also said those in the industry believe the accident is the first of its type ever in Canada.
The tragedy unfolded shortly after the two went into the air at Mount Woodside in the Fraser Valley, near Agassiz.
Somehow after takeoff, as the glider was about 300 metres from the ground, Godinez slipped out of the harness system in place to hold her onto the glider.
As she broke free, she grabbed onto the pilot's legs in desperation, pulling his shoes off his feet as she lost hold.
It was those running shoes that fell from the sky that eventually helped search and rescue workers locate Godinez, who fell into a heavily wooded area.
Warner said a member of the search party first found a shoe and it helped lead them to Godinez.
He insists the pilot was well trained and experienced in tandem flights.
"At this point it is being looked at if it was pilot error or equipment error," he said.
Warner said the pilot desperately tried to hold onto the woman as she broke free.
"The pilot did everything he could to hang onto her," he said.
Warner believes this is the first fatality stemming from a flight with two people.
"This has never happened in Canada before," he said.
Barb McLintock of the B.C. Coroner Service said a coroner was on the scene and the cause of the tragedy has yet to be determined.
The sport of hang gliding is not regulated like the airplane industry, she notes.
"We will do a very thorough investigation into this unfortunate accident," she said. "We have a bunch of questions and no answers at this point," she said.
"Obviously we have to look at the (harness) systems in place and are there enough systems," she said.
McLintock said she too has not heard of any tandem hang gliding fatalities.
"Nobody can remember a tandem accident like this," she said. "They have fail-safe systems. It is too early to know what went wrong."
Search and rescue volunteers took several hours to find the woman's body in the area below Mount Woodside.
The site is a popular launching pad for hang gliders.