Calgary bobsled death inquiry recommends infrared technology, safety audits

A judge found the deaths of 17-year-old twins Evan and Jordan Caldwell were accidental and caused by blunt-force head and neck trauma

Infrared technology and signs warning of trespassing penalties are among a judge’s recommendations for preventing tragedies like a fatal 2016 bobsled crash that killed teenage twins during an after-hours run down the track at Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park.

A fatality inquiry by provincial court Judge Margaret Keelaghan found the deaths of 17-year-old twins Evan and Jordan Caldwell were accidental and caused by blunt-force head and neck trauma.

“The young men involved in this incident were thrill-seeking youth whose ill-conceived risk-taking resulted in unspeakable tragedy,” she wrote in her report, dated Sept. 24 and released Monday.

“It is important, however, to remember that the two promising young men who passed away were bright, talented members of their community, loved by their family and their friends, who did not involve themselves with drugs or alcohol and who, before the incident occurred, had spent the evening at their church youth group.”

The Caldwell twins and six friends climbed over a six foot fence at the park with plastic sleds and a plan to slide down the bobsled track, which was built for the 1988 Olympics. But the group didn’t know there was a barrier in place meant to divide the bobsled and luge tracks, as well as a chain strung across to keep the barricade in place.

The twins, on separate sleds, were killed almost instantly after striking the barrier. Four others in the group were seriously injured.

Keelaghan heard evidence in April from police, several representatives of the facility owner WinSport and one of the boys who was there during the crash.

Keelaghan noted park owner WinSport has already taken numerous steps to address security concerns, including improved signage, fencing and patrols. The divider between the bobsled and luge tracks is now kept in a neutral position at the end of the day and the chain has been replaced with a plastic mechanism that keeps the barrier in place.

The judge made five recommendations to build on WinSport’s work.

She said WinSport should continue to look for technology to improve safety, “including the potential use of infrared technology at the top and down the track that might trip an alarm and alert security and/or activate lights.

“These measures could act as a deterrent.”

She said safety audits, like one done by WinSport after the crash, should take place regularly.

In addition to signs already up that warn of “risk of injury and death,” Keelaghan said there should also ones detailing penalties for trespassing violations.

She also recommended more cameras at the gates and increased safety training and education for both staff and the public.

Keelaghan thanked the boys’ parents for being in court for the inquiry in April and commended the “strength and grace” they displayed. Jason and Shauna Caldwell said at the time that they didn’t wish to place blame, but that they wanted to help prevent similar deaths in future.

WinSport accepts all of Keelaghan’s recommendations, said spokesman Dale Oviatt.

“We confirm that we have implemented or will be implementing all of the recommendations in the report,” he said in an emailed statement.

“Once again, all of us at WinSport want to offer our thoughts to the families affected by this tragic incident.”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Rossland looks to implement mail ballot voting

City said new procedure could make voting easier and more accessible for residents

Drugs, stolen bike and cheques seized during RCMP search in Castlegar

Two men were taken into police custody during the search warrant

Morning start: This is the fastest growing city in the Kootenays

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Monday, May 25

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Mountain Pineapple defers application for new cannabis store in Rossland

The application was originally going to be reviewed by city council on May 19

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Most Read