Two are dead and six are injured after a group of teens attempted to use their own toboggan at a bobsled and luge course in Calgary this weekend.
Police say that the the teens had entered Calgary Olympic Park after hours early Saturday morning, and attempted to use their own toboggan on the course before crashing into a gate that separated the bobsled from the luge paths.
The crash left twin brothers dead—17-year-olds Jordan and Evan Caldwell—and six other boys injured. Some of the injuries have been described as serious and police said the crash survivors were "severely traumatized" by the accident.
Denis Boivin, an expert on insurance law at the University of Ottawa, told VICE that property owners have a responsibility to fortify their property against trespassers, but notes that responsibility only goes so far until trespassers have to accept the risk that is associated with ignoring safety warnings.
"What happened was incredibly tragic, but at the end of the day, if someone does enter by cutting a hole in a fence or picking a lock… if there was ever to be a lawsuit, the argument would that would be made is that person accepted the risk or was negligent and contributed to the injury," he said.
Boivin notes that other examples of illegal trespassing such as rooftop photography are open to the same sort of scrutiny.
Similarly, when asked whether the teens being minors would have an affect on any future proceedings, Professor at University of Alberta Barbara Billingsley told VICE that one of the key issues a lawsuit would look at is whether the teens were considered capable of assessing the course as a danger.
"It depends on a lot of factors, the age of the child, the ability of the child to appreciate danger. The occupies have to reasonably assume that someone would be coming onto the property as a trespasser," she said, noting that the Occupiers Liability Act of Alberta does not ask property owners to protect their property from adults who are trespassing, only children.
"Essentially, it'd be a test of whether a reasonable 17-year-old could see that danger."
According to CBC, locals say that sneaking into the bobsled course was a Calgary tradition and that it was not unusual for teens to race down the course without permission from the park's company, WinSport.
Barry Heck, CEO of WinSport, told the CBC that he had heard of incidents of people sneaking into the park, but was not personally aware of anybody crashing on the track before. Heck added that the park has full security measures and will be conducting its own review, separate from the police investigation.
On Sunday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called the incident a "tragic event," but came to the defense of WinSport's safety record.
"WinSport has been running this facility for many, many years with enormous safety and sometimes there's a point where there's no more you can do."
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