CALGARY — The parents of teenage twins who died during an after-hours run down Canada Olympic Park’s luge-bobsled track two years ago say they try not to dwell on the details of what happened and don’t want to blame anyone.
Jason and Shauna Caldwell were in court Monday for the start of a fatality inquiry into the deaths of their sons Jordan and Evan.
“Risks to life in this world are inevitable, but because we value life and there are opportunities to put safeguards in place, we fully support and encourage this inquiry process, and are thankful for it,” the father told the inquiry led by Judge Margaret Keelaghan.
Keelaghan’s role is not to assign legal responsibility, but she may recommend ways to prevent similar deaths in future.
Jason Caldwell said outside court that he and his wife made a conscious decision not to be obsessed by the facts of the crash that claimed the lives of their 17-year-old boys.
“Nothing that will be said here today can bring Evan and Jordan back,” he said, clutching a leatherbound bible that belonged to Jordan.
“We’ve had to let all of that raw pain and grief be displaced by something bigger, and that is our faith in God and our faith that we will see Evan and Jordan again.”
The twins were part of a larger group that snuck onto the grounds of the WinSport facility with plastic sleds and headed down the icy track, which was built for the 1988 Olympics.
They hit a gate, set up to divide the bobsled and luge runs, at high speed and died almost instantly — six other young men were taken to hospital.
The Caldwells drew parallels with the grief still rippling after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan on Friday, which killed 15.
After the accident two years ago, the Caldwells thought one of the boys in hospital might have been their son, but found out later that both had died.
They said they empathize with families affected by similar confusion following the Broncos crash. Authorities mixed up the identities of one of the deceased and one of the survivors partly because the hockey players all had blond dyed hair and similar builds.
“We remember the chaos of it and waiting for hours to identify the unidentified boy,” Shauna Caldwell recalled.
Calgary Police Service Det. Neil MacPherson, who responded to the scene the morning of the accident, told the inquiry the boys climbed over a fence that was more than two-metres high at the top of the sliding track to get into the start house.
MacPherson said there were “no trespassing” signs and three boys involved in the Feb. 6, 2016, tragedy had snuck into the park nearly two weeks before.
Helena Falk, who was a security guard at the time, told court her training did not touch on unauthorized entry onto the sliding track. She said she’d heard rumours about, but never encountered, anyone trying it until the night of the fatal crash.
Shauna Caldwell hugged Falk as the inquiry broke for lunch. The couple has told WinSport, which owns and operates the track and Canada Olympic Park, they have no intention of taking legal action and invited anyone involved in the tragedy to reach out to them.