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

COVID- 19: Ucluelet encourages visitors and residents to mask up

“Put your ego aside, this is what needs to be done,” said Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel.

Frustration grows in Ucluelet as locked gate puts school garden in peril

“You walk by there and it’s just dead. Everything’s dry and yelling for water,” Liisa Nielsen said.

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Ucluelet fire crew extinguishes residential blaze

Ucluelet’s fire chief is praising his crew for making short work of a residential blaze on Tuesday.

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Face masks will be mandatory for customers at all Walmart locations

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Penticton homes evacuated due to wildfire northwest of city

Emergency vehicles are at the scene near Sage Mesa, evacuation centre set up in Penticton

British Columbians worried as end of COVID-19 rental supplement looms

Single mom struggles as supplement was her saving grace

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Arson suspected in several wildfires lit near Kootenay town

RCMP making progress in arson investigation of Marsh Creek fires

Three screening officers at Vancouver airport test positive for COVID-19

The public is not believed to be at risk of exposure

VIDEO: B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote with head stuck in jar

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

Most Read