The family of a girl who was killed by a falling soccer net last summer has filed suit against the Yukon government.
Jaedyn Amann-Hicks, five, died after being struck in the head by a collapsible soccer net while playing in the field at Watson Lake Secondary School last July.
A coroner’s inquest into her death ruled it accidental in November.
Several children were playing around the net at the time. One child was seen touching or shaking the side support strut, which, the coroner concluded, caused the net to collapse.
Jaedyn was immediately rushed to hospital after being struck by the 80-kilogram net but succumbed to her injuries a few hours later.
The coroner found that the soccer net in Watson Lake was in poor condition at the time of the accident.
The goal was rusted, screws were missing and there was no locking mechanism to hold the struts in place.
In tests conducted after the accident the “net collapsed easily by an adult applying pressure of just one finger to the soccer goal,” stated the report.
The Yukon’s chief coroner, Kirsten Macdonald, made seven recommendations in her report aimed at preventing future accidents.
In addition to requiring inspections, Macdonald recommended that legislation be introduced that speaks to safety standards and that procurement records be kept and regularly reviewed to identify recall notices or potential safety hazards. The recommendations also call for the development of a policy to track and address soccer-net safety concerns and stress that any manufacturers’ labels be permanently and clearly displayed, that warning labels be put on all soccer goals and that the government should engage in a public education campaign regarding soccer-net safety.
Even before the recommendations came out, the Yukon government had pledged to conduct a full inspection of all playground equipment in the territory this spring, and in November the legislative assembly unanimously passed a motion put forward by Watson Lake MLA Patti McLeod to regulate moveable sports nets in the territory.
Getting the legislation passed was something that Jaedyn’s parents had tirelessly campaigned for in the wake of their daughter’s death.
“I think the family’s greatest wish is that no one ever again has to suffer as they are now,” said the family’s lawyer, James Tucker, in an interview last November.
Jaedyn was the third person to be killed by a collapsible soccer net in Canada. In the U.S., soccer goals like the one in Watson Lake have caused at least 21 deaths and more than 120 injuries.
In the lawsuit which was filed with the Territorial Supreme Court this week the family says the Department of Education, which owned the soccer net, is at fault.
“The defendant’s negligence was the sole cause of the incident which resulted in the death of Jaedyn,” reads the statement of claim.
“The soccer goal posed a hazard which the (department) knew or ought to have known existed.”
The family is seeking unspecified damages.
“I can say that in the wake of a tragedy like this there is no amount of money that can possibly set this family right,” said Tucker.
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