Coroner's report into Olympic luger's death coming soon

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - The six-month anniversary of the opening of the 21st Winter Olympics came and went Thursday.

So did the six-month anniversary of the tragic death of a 21-year-old Georgian luger.

Nodar Kumaritashvili flew off his sled, hit a pole and died in a training run at the Whistler Sliding Centre, casting a pall over the Feb. 12 festivities. Flags were flown at half-mast during the B.C. Place Stadium opening ceremony, where Kumaritashvili’s teammates wore black armbands as they entered to a standing ovation.

“During the month of August, I will be reviewing the investigation information provided by Coroner (Tom) Pawlowski along with the recommendation from the inquest committee,” said British Columbia Chief Coroner Dr. Diane Rothon in a statement to QMI. “Once the review process is complete a decision will be made on whether this case will be completed via Coroner’s report or inquest (hearings).”

VANOC vice-president of communications Renee Smith-Valade said that insurer Chartis has paid compensation to Kumaritashvili’s family.

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

In a 20-page April report, the International Luge Federation blamed driving errors and a catapult effect.

That report said officials discovered in March 2008 when the $106 million, German-designed track was approved that it was “faster than originally calculated.” Top speed was supposed to be 136 km-h, but Germany’s Felix Loch registered 153.98 km-h. Sochi 2014 organizers were told in April 2009 to limit their track to 135 km-h.

POLL