$150K payout for family of dead luger

Furlong reveals sum in book after VANOC refused media query

By BOB MACKIN, QMI AGENCY

John Furlong has revealed in his memoir that Nodar Kumaritashvili’s family was to receive a $150,000 insurance payout.

Luger Kumaritashvili, 21, died after a training crash on the opening day of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Georgian’s death was deemed accidental by the B.C. Coroners Service.

VANOC CEO Furlong was a pallbearer at the Feb. 15 Vancouver funeral and he disclosed the sum in his newly published Patriot Hearts: Inside the Olympics That Changed a Country (Douglas and McIntyre).

"The family would be receiving the equivalent of CAN$150,000 insurance money as a result of Nodar's death. But who knew how long it was going to take for that to arrive? It was obvious the family could use money now,” Furlong’s book says.

VANOC converted $25,000 to euros after auctioning an Olympic podium. Furlong traveled to the funeral in Bakuriani, Georgia. He wrote that he stuffed the cash in his suit jacket and gave it to Kumaritashvili’s father David at the wake.

“He’d have the pain of his loss for the rest of his life, but the money would help make that life easier,” says the book, written with Gary Mason.

Last August, VANOC spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade told QMI the insurance payment had been made through insurer Chartis.

“Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we have not made the amount or the timing public,” said Smith-Valade, who traveled with Furlong.

Furlong was “unable to move” when deputy Dave Cobb informed him of the catastrophe after 10 a.m. on Feb. 12.

"We had confronted make-believe plane crashes, riots, major injuries, mustard gas -- you name it and we had prepared for it. But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine the death of an athlete on opening day,” according to Furlong.

bob.mackin@sunmedia.ca