Humboldt bus crash: A developing story Humboldt bus crash: A developing story
Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice announced Monday morning that one of the players from the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team was misidentified by the coronoer... Humboldt bus crash: A developing story

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice announced Monday morning that one of the players from the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team was misidentified by the coronoer after a bus collided with a tractor-trailer, leaving 16 people dead and 13 others injured on Friday evening. They were on their way to a playoff game.

Broncos’ defenceman Xavier Labelle, 18, was said to be deceased by the coronoer, but it was Parker Tobin, 18, the Broncos’ goalie who was killed, not Labelle. The coronoer has apologized for the error.

In a press conference Monday morning, spokesperson for the Justice Ministry Drew Wilby addressed the mistake and gave their sympathy and condolences to everyone involved. The families of the victims seemingly understand this mistake.

One of the victims, Logan Boulet, 21, has been taken off life support and has donated all his organs, said his cousin Julie Kindt on Facebook. Neil Langevin, Boulet’s godfather, said some of his organs are going to save six lives, while others are going to science for research.

Ryan Straschnitzki, 18, is one of the 13 injured players. According to his parents, Straschnitzki was left paralyzed from the waist down after he was thrown from the bus and broke his back in the crash. His recovery process is steady, but it has not been confirmed when he will be released from the hospital and sent home to Alberta. Four other injured players are still in critical condition.

The Vigil

A vigil was held Sunday night in Humboldt to mourn the victims of the crash. Hundreds of people gathered at Elgar Petersen Arena, home turf for the Humboldt Broncos. Among them was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Coach’s Corner co-host Don Cherry. Flowers were laid in the centre of the rink in a circle while friends and family of the victims prayed and sang hymns. Photos of the victims were assembled at one end of the arena.

Trudeau visited the survivors of the accident in the hospital early Sunday before the vigil.

Nick Shumlanski, 20, the only injured player that was released from the hospital at that time, was released on Saturday, according to his father. He was released with a shoulder injury and a chipped vertebra. Shumlanski was in attendance at the vigil, sporting his white, green and yellow team jersey, as well as a bruise under his left eye.

In an interview with CTV News Monday night, Shumlanski told reporters, “To come out of that the way I did, (the doctor) said I was one of the luckiest clients or something like that, he’s ever seen. I’m feeling pretty blessed, pretty fortunate. I don’t think anybody is ever going to move on from this, but the support helps — it gives you strength.” Shumlanski also said that the last thing he remembers is slamming down on the breaks and a few of the other players standing up to see what was going on.

Support for victims

Queen Elizabeth II released a statement sharing her condolences. “Prince Philip and I were saddened to hear word of the crash,” she said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost so much, with their families and with all Canadians who grieve with them at this difficult time.”

The team’s Chaplain Pastor Sean Brandow shared his recollection of when he arrived at the scene and said he heard sounds and saw things he never wants to see again. He also said he felt at a loss while emergency crews tried saving the ones they could.

Social media users are using the hashtag #PutYourStickOut on Twitter and other platforms to show their support for the survivors and victims of the crash and their families. They’re also placing hockey sticks on their front porches and sharing photos of them with the hashtag on social media. Many people have also reached out to the families and friends of the victims and survivors of the crash to show their support during this tragedy.

A GoFundMe fundraising campaign was set up for the survivors and the victims’ families. More than $11.5 million has been raised as of 10 a.m. ET on Monday, surpassing the four million dollar goal. Sylvie Kellington, a Humboldt resident who has a son that plays on a youth team called the Broncos Bantam A team started the fundraiser. Over 100,000 donors in 65 countries have contributed. The campaign is the most successful Canadian fundraiser in GoFundMe’s history.

Team president of the Broncos Kevin Garinger stated that the team is working with Saskatchewan health officials to release information on the medical status of the survivors of the bus crash. He said no names would be released.

Where it happened

The intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335, which is about 300 kilometres north of Regina is where the bus collided with the tractor-trailer that was hauling peat moss. The impact of the crash destroyed both the bus and the tractor-trailer. The same intersection where the collision occurred was the site of another accident that happened 21 years ago and killed six people.

According to the RCMP, it was too early to comment on the cause of the crash or if charges would be laid on the weekend. But the Broncos’ bus would have had the right of way heading north, while the tractor-trailer would have had a stop sign heading west at the intersection. The RCMP are still investigating the cause of the crash.

According to the provincial Transport Minister Brian Mason, Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., the trucking company that contracted the tractor-trailer has been suspended indefinitely by the Alberta Transportation ministry, pending an investigation. Officials state that this is the standard procedure when commercial carriers are involved in high-profile accidents that put the public at a potential high-risk. Demands for increased trucking industry safety standards have also been voiced by citizens in light of the crash.

Over 10,000 signatures have been collected for an online petition that is calling Saskatchewan minister of Highways and Infrastructure to improve safety at the intersection where the crash occurred. “A proper 4-way stop, aided by rumble strips and deceleration zones in every direction, may have prevented this,” the petition says.

The victims

The RCMP has released a list of names of the victims of the crash.

Humboldt Broncos team photo

Players:

  • Adam Herold, 16, Montmartre Sask.
  • Conner Lukan, 21, Slave Lake, Alta.
  • Evan Thomas, 18, Saskatoon, Sask.
  • Jacob Leicht, 19, Humboldt, Sask.
  • Jaxon Joseph, 20, Edmonton, Alta.
  • Logan Boulet, 21, Lethbridge, Alta.
  • Logan Hunter, 18, St. Albert, Alta.
  • Logan Schatz, 20, Allan, Sask.
  • Stephen Wack, 21, St. Albert, Alta.
  • Parker Tobin, 18, Stoney Plain, Alta.

Team personnel:

  • Brody Hinz, 18, Humboldt, Sask.
  • Darcy Haugan, 42, Humboldt, Sask.
  • Glen Doerksen, 59, Carrot River, Sask.
  • Mark Cross, 27, Strasbourg, Sask.
  • Tyler Bieber, 29, Humboldt, Sask.
  • Dayna Brons, 24, Lake Lenore, Sask.

Among the list of survivors are players Ryan Straschnitzki, Matthieu Gomercic, Nick Shumlanski, Morgan Gobeil, and Tyler Smith. The driver of the tractor-trailer survived the crash with no serious injuries. He was initially detained by RCMP, but has since been released and is getting psychological support. His identity has not been released, but thousands of Canadians are sharing their support for him in a letter, saying they know he did not intend to kill 16 people when he began driving the tractor-trailer.

Straschnitzki says he plans to get back on the ice in the future. He has set his sights on Olympic sledge hockey. Shumlanski says he wants to play hockey again but needs space and time to process what has happened to him. He says he’s not worried about the future. He also posted on Twitter asking people to keep him and the rest of the Broncos in their thoughts and prayers.

The funerals

Funeral preparations for the victims who passed away have begun. Radio play-by-play announcer Tyler Bieber was remembered at the Humboldt Elgar Petersen Arena on Thursday. Three services honoured players Jacob Leicht and Adam Herold, as well as bus driver Glen Doerksen on Friday. Broncos player Logan Schatz was remembered on Sunday in his hometown. More to come.

Last updated on April 16, 2018. 

Elena Maddalena De Luigi

Radio Intern at 680NEWS • Editorial Intern at Pressed News • Web Editor at Skedline • Coffee drinker

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