Survivor of crash on Calgary sliding track says fence wouldn't have stopped him - InfoNews

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Survivor of crash on Calgary sliding track says fence wouldn't have stopped him

Flowers are placed on a fence near the start area for the bobsled track after an incident on the track that left two teenagers dead and six injured at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary on February 7, 2016. One of the survivors of a deadly slide down the bobsled run at Canadian Olympic Park in Calgary says fences or signs probably wouldn't have stopped him that night.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
April 12, 2018 - 12:36 PM

CALGARY - One of the survivors of a deadly slide down the bobsled run at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary says fences or signs probably wouldn't have stopped him that night.

Daniel Spalding testified at an inquiry into the deaths of twin brothers Jordan and Evan Caldwell, who were among eight youths who slid down the track on Feb. 6, 2016.

Spalding, now 20, told the inquiry that he had convinced his friends to meet him after church to take a ride down the track where bobsled, skeleton and luge athletes train.

The eight snuck onto the icy track, sped down on plastic sleds and crashed into a metal gate where the bobsled and luge runs converge.

The 17-year-old twins died almost instantly and the others were injured and taken to hospital.

Spalding said the risk of a steep financial penalty or seeing a guard patrolling the area may have stopped him.

“For us, what may have made the biggest difference was if there's some mention of a big fine or something,” Spalding said Wednesday. “We knew we were trespassing and if there’s a fence, we’re just gonna hop over it.

“If we saw a person, if there was a security officer at the top, we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

The inquiry was shown photos earlier this week of the bobsled start house the morning of the accident. The opening was blocked by wheeled blue barricades less than a metre high.

Now, the entrance is blocked entirely by a tall chain-link fence made opaque by black strips woven through and topped with wire. New yellow-and-red warning signs have also been installed at various points.

Spalding said some of his friends "were not quite as keen as others about the whole idea” of sliding down the track.

“My buddy Eric was kind of hesitant about it and his brother Wilson and I ... convinced him into it, because the first time we found it to be quite safe and we couldn’t foresee anything going wrong.”

Spalding admitted to having made his way down the track with two other boys on sleds and a kayak a week before the deadly crash.

Spalding was on the first sled that toppled and slowed prior to reaching the gate. He said he tried to warn those behind him, but was unsuccessful.

“It was just my buddy Wilson who had broken his ankle,” he said. “We didn’t really want to call 911 because we knew we’d get in big trouble. I was just planning on driving to the hospital."

Spalding didn't realize what shape a couple of his friends were in nor did he initially know that the Caldwell brothers, who had been riding on separate sleds, had not survived the collision.

He said he isn’t proud of his decision to slide down the track and the consequences forced him to reconsider his priorities.

The purpose of the inquiry is not to assign blame for the deaths but to prevent a similar event from occurring again.

(CTV Calgary, The Canadian Press)

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had the incorrect name for the sport park

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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