Tandem Hang-Glider Pilot Pleads Guilty To Manslaughter


Eleni Zeri, a 23-year-old tourist from Greece, died in March 2003 during a tandem hang-glider ride in the mountains of New Zealand after the pilot took off without properly securing her to the glider. Pilot Steve Parson, 53, of Canada, admitted that he had made a mistake, and last Friday apologized in court to the victim’s mother. “Eleni was very brave. I’m so very, very sorry,” Parson said. He was sentenced to serve 350 hours’ community service and pay NZ$10,000 in reparation. After launch, when Parson realized Zeri was not secured, he wrapped his legs around her to try to keep her with him. She told him she couldn’t hold on, and fell 500 feet to her death. New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it will start next month to review and overhaul the regulations that affect commercial adventure-aviation operators. However, a CAA spokesman told the New Zealand Herald the review was not a response to Parson’s case. “What happened in his case was in no way related to the regulations,” said Bill Sommer. “The company he worked for had safety procedures in place that were in line with regulations, but he failed to follow them.” However, the current regulations need to be streamlined to make compliance easier for operators and the CAA, he said.