Coroner says alcohol a factor in golf cart death

Edmonton man had blood-alcohol level of .19 when golf cart he was driving at Predator Ridge hit a rock face and went over an embankment..

A provincial coroner says alcohol played a factor in the death of an Edmonton man last summer in a golf cart accident at Predator Ridge Resort.

B.C. coroner Andrew Cave said Glenn Daniel Thordarson, 52, had a blood-alcohol level of .19 per cent when the golf cart he was driving at Predator Ridge during a golf outing June 7 hit a rock face, went across a grassy mound and over a seven-metre-high embankment before landing on a road below.

“I find that Glenn Thordarson died of a basal skull fracture and left-sided pneumothorax (collapse of the lung) sustained in a fall while operating an electric vehicle,” wrote Cave in his two-page report. “Impairment with ethyl alcohol was a contributory factor.”

Cave classified the death as accidental and that “no mechanical reason could be found to account for loss of control.” He made no recommendations.

Cave’s investigation revealed that Thordarson had been at Predator Ridge with a group of work colleagues to take part in three days of golf.

On the morning of June 7, 2012, Thordarson played 18 holes, stopped for lunch and, at approximately 2:30, began a second round, intending to play 18 more holes. He was in a foursome and the colleagues were travelling around the course in two carts. Thordarson was the passenger for the first nine-to-10 holes, then took on the driving role.

After teeing off from the 16th hole, the two carts drove along a path, Thordarson’s cart was the second vehicle. The path went downhill for a short period before rising again.

“Evidence from the scene in combination with GPS analysis indicated that during the uphill portion of the pathway, Mr. Thordarson’s cart struck a rock face on the left side,” wrote Cave. “It then took a sharp right turn and proceeded across approximately 10 metres of grassy ground and off a seven-metre-high embankment, landing on an asphalt-surfaced roadway below.”

A witness said both of the cart’s occupants were conscious and shouting as they went over the edge. The first cart was not aware of the incident going on behind them.

Thordarson and his companion were ejected from the cart in the fall. The cart was found lying on the driver’s side on top of Thordarson.

“Witnesses to the incident came to help immediately, 911 was called and the cart was lifted away from Mr. Thordarson,” said Cave. “Following the incident, Mr. Thordarson was unconscious with laboured breathing.”

A mechanical inspection was conducted on the 2012 EZGO RXV two-seat golf cart. It was a new cart within the Predator Ridge fleet, having been used for 16.2 hours before the accident.

The maximum speed of the cart was checked and found to be limited to 18.66 kilometres/hour. It was fitted with a GPS unit which revealed that the unit was travelling at 18 km/h at the time of the accident.

“The GPS also indicated that during travel on the preceding hole it was driven in a normal manner,” said Cave.

No faults were found with the steering, braking system and accelerator, and no debris was found within the moving parts of the cart.

“The design of the brake and accelerator was such that if the accelerator was struck open, use of the brake would override it,” said Cave.