The family of a girl who died on a school trip to Ontario’s Blue Mountain Ski Resort has filed a lawsuit claiming the teen was encouraged to ski a hill she felt she wasn’t ready for.
Elisabeth Reurink, 17, of London, Ont., died in March 2009, after hitting a tree at the resort in Collingwood, Ont., about 150 kilometres northwest of Toronto.
A statement of claim was filed with the Ontario Superior Court on Feb. 7 but the law firm representing the girl’s family announced the suit this week.
It is alleged in the statement of claim that Reurink, a student at London’s Catholic Central High School, wasn’t given enough instruction on how to ski and was encouraged by her phys-ed teacher to ski a slope that was beyond her abilities.
It is also alleged the school board failed to take adequate safety precautions to ensure the Grade 12 student’s safety during the ski trip that was part of the school’s curriculum, according to the statement.
None of the allegations has been proven in court, and the defendants intend to defend against them, their lawyers said Tuesday.
The statement of claim listed the resort, the school board, school officials and two unnamed resort ski instructors as defendants.
After the teenager’s death, the London Catholic School Board cancelled all remaining snow-related school trips that year and reviewed its policies, according to media reports at the time.
“We respect the right of the family to file the suit,” Wilma de Rond, the board’s education director, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
De Rond, who is among those named in the lawsuit, said she could not comment further.
A resort spokeswoman said in an email they were “truly saddened by the Reurink family’s loss.”
“Elisabeth Reurink’s accident was fully investigated by Blue Mountain and we are satisfied that everything was done appropriately,” said Kelly O’Neill.
Legate & Associates, which represents the family, said in an email that the teenager’s parents and sisters launched the $2-million lawsuit to get answers about why she died.
According to the statement of claim, members of Reurink’s gym class received less than one hour’s instruction from employees at Blue Mountain, then were permitted to ski any terrain at the resort.
However, O’Neill said Reurink’s sticker allowed her to ski only green and blue runs — not the black or double black diamond runs. Ski runs are marked green for easy, blue for intermediate and black for most difficult or advanced. Double black diamond runs are for experts only.
The statement of claim says Reurink did not want to ski on an intermediate hill, L-Hill, where advanced and intermediate runs converge on a difficult slope.
O’Neill said the teenager was on an intermediate slope, not an area where advanced and intermediate runs converge.
The statement of claim says Reurink told the phys-ed teacher of her concerns but despite her protests, the teacher encouraged her to ski the hill.
Reurink, who was wearing a helmet, lost control on the slope and hit a tree at the bottom, dying instantly, the statement of claim alleged.
“She hit with such force her aorta and brain stem were severed,” the statement read.