Calgary

Fatality inquiry report into sledding deaths at WinSport released

Jordan and Evan Caldwell died from blunt force trauma and neck trauma when they snuck onto the Calgary sliding track at the facility at night with plastic sleds.

Twin brothers were killed when they attempted to ride down the tracks at night along with six friends in 2016

Jordan and Evan Caldwell were killed when they tried to slide down the bobsled track after-hours at Canada Olympic Park in 2016. (Submitted by the Caldwell family)

The Alberta government has released the results of a fatality inquiry into the deaths of two Calgary brothers who were killed in an after-hours tobogganing stunt at Canada Olympic Park in 2016.

Jordan and Evan Caldwell died from blunt force trauma and neck trauma when they snuck onto the Calgary sliding track at the facility with plastic sleds.

Partway down the track, Evan and two other boys slammed into a large barrier that was in place to separate the bobsled and luge tracks, while Jordan, riding on another sled, struck a chain connected to the barrier. 

Provincial court Judge Margaret Keelaghan determined in the inquiry the deaths were accidental and noted WinSport, which owns and operates the facilities, has taken numerous steps to try to prevent another tragedy on the tracks. 

"The young men involved in this incident were thrill-seeking youth whose ill-conceived risk-taking resulted in unspeakable tragedy," reads the report. 

Changes after accident

In the wake of the accident, which also injured six other teens, WinSport conducted a safety audit, erected a new perimeter fence, put up larger warning signs, put a new lock on a gate at the top of the hill, introduced new wording in staff training materials and established a new safety oversight committee. 

The report notes one of the most significant changes following the deaths is to leave the barricade that killed the twins in a neutral position when the track is not in use. 

At the time of the accident, the practice was to leave the barrier in whatever position it was in at the end of the day.

The inquiry made the following recommendations to prevent more deaths on the track:

  • Investigate and apply technology to improve track safety, including deterrents such as infrared technology that would trigger alarms and lights. 
  • Conduct periodic safety audits like the one done after the accident. 
  • Include penalties for trespassing violations on signs.
  • Install cameras at Hill Road gates with warning signs. 
  • Establish training for staff and education for public around safety.

No charges were laid as a result of the incident.