A Winnipeg family is suing the Festival du Voyageur after they say their daughter was injured during a sledding accident on their ice slide two years ago.

In court documents filed February 4, Lynne and Raymond Comeault claim their then 12-year-old daughter sustained "extensive injuries" when she was ejected from her sled and propelled into the air while on the ice slide. She struck her tailbone and head on the path of the ice.

The ice slide is constructed by the festival and tobogganers can sled down an ice covered track at high speeds. The lawsuit claims the slide did not require seatbelts, helmets or any other safety equipment at the time of the accident.

Festival du Voyageur Executive Director Ginette Lavack Walters said the festival is not at liberty to discuss the case because there is a court proceeding. 

The documents state that as a result of the accident, the Comeault's daughter sustained a concussion, has migraine-like headaches, sleep deprivation, whiplash, brain injury, misaligned eyes and other injuries. Her injuries resulted in her missing the remainder of her Grade 7 school year and caused her "minimal participation" in her Grade 8 and 9 school years.

The suit alleges the accident was caused by the negligence of the festival including:

  • Failure to adequately supervise and monitor the patrons, particularly children.
  • Failure to maintain the ice slide in a safe condition.
  • Failure to provide safety equipment and training.

Lavack Walters said helmet use is mandatory this year by children under 18 and that requirement was a result of the slide's redesign. 

Helmets mandatory this year

"Every year we build a slide a new way and our team is always looking at what safety precautions need to be taken," she said."We offer the use of helmets, there's ample signage saying that children under 18 must wear helmets, and we have supervision on the site all the time." 

She said the slide was built longer, faster and the sides are higher this year. Helmets are provided by the festival to patrons and they were purchased at Canadian Tire. 

The lawsuit claims general, special and pecuniary damages, without specifying dollar amounts, against the corporation that operates the Festival du Voyageur.

The plaintiffs are asking for general damages for pain and suffering, future loss of income and earning capacity to be paid to Manon. Her parents claim general damages for emotional and mental distress, special damages for travel costs, medication and medical care. The suit alleges the parents have incurred loss of income for missing work while caring for Manon and they claim special damages for future costs of caring for her.

The family's lawyer declined to comment on the case. 

A statement of defence has not been filed and none of the allegations have been proven in court.