Judge gets first-hand look at site of bobsled crash that killed twins - InfoNews

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Judge gets first-hand look at site of bobsled crash that killed twins

Evan and Jordan Caldwell are shown in a family handout photo. An inquiry is being held into the deaths of the 17-year-old twins who died during an after-hours run down Canada Olympic Park's luge-bobsled track. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
April 11, 2018 - 5:19 AM

CALGARY - The judge leading an inquiry into the deaths of teenage twins who died during an after-hours bobsled run at Canada Olympic Park had a first-hand look Tuesday at the scene of the 2016 crash.

Judge Margaret Keelaghan was led on a tour of the sprawling property on Calgary's western edge by John Sutherland, chief operating officer of facility owner WinSport. They were accompanied by a clerk, WinSport and inquiry lawyers, and reporters.

The boys' parents were in court earlier in the day but chose not to attend the site visit.

Sutherland was sworn in inside a small theatre in the WinSport day lodge. The mobile courtroom then piled into a van and drove up a winding uphill road to the start of the bobsled track.

There, the judge was shown some of the changes WinSport has made since Jordan and Evan Caldwell, along with six friends, snuck onto the icy track, sped down on plastic sleds and crashed where the bobsled and luge runs converge.

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

The inquiry was shown photos earlier of the opening to the bobsled start house the morning of the accident, which was blocked by wheeled blue barricades less than a metre high that would have been easy for the boys to pass.

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.

The group made its way downhill to the site of the fatal crash.

Tyler Seitz, who managed the sliding track at the time, told the inquiry earlier Tuesday there is a hinged barrier to ensure both tracks are narrow enough so sleds don't veer out of line and lose control.

He said to his knowledge, no other sliding tracks in the world have barriers like that, which he likened to a railway switch.

The night of the accident, the bobsled track was closed and the luge track was open. There was a chain across to keep the barrier in position, but that has been replaced with a hard plastic securing mechanism.

Seitz said he does not know of anyone else sneaking in while he's been in charge.

"I have not been made aware of any unauthorized use of the track, nor would I tolerate it."

Seitz said he was familiar with the track — one of two in Canada — as he twice competed in luge in the Olympics and worked at the facility for six years.

He said he heard rumours of people sneaking in at night throughout his career, but he had no direct knowledge.

The inquiry previously heard three boys involved in the fatal accident had done a similar late-night run down the track nearly two weeks earlier — one of them in a kayak. Nothing seemed amiss with the track the morning after that excursion, Seitz said.

Keelaghan's inquiry will not assign legal responsibility, but she may recommend ways to prevent similar deaths.

Seitz said sports that involve zooming down an icy chute at 130 kilometres an hour are inherently risky and he can't recommend any new safety measures that haven't already been taken.

"If there was anything else that I thought was of use to stop this sort of thing, it would have been considered."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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