The death toll of a tragic bus accident involving the Humboldt Broncos has increased to 15.
Initial reports had suggested there were 14 fatalities arising from the incident.
The Saskatchewan RCMP made the announcement shortly after the Broncos organization, RCMP, the City of Humboldt and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League came together to provide updates to the public.
“This afternoon Saskatchewan RCMP were notified of another death resulting from the fatal motor vehicle collision that occurred yesterday. This brings the number of people who died in this collision to 15,” they announced through a press release.
Members of the RCMP also clarified the number of people on the bus, increasing last night’s number from 28 to 29.
With the number of fatalities now reaching 15, the number of survivors currently sits at 14, with RCMP noting some remain in critical condition.
The incident occurred at approximately 5 p.m. on April 6.
Saskatchewan RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki noted initial investigation showed the collision was between a tractor trailer unit traveling westbound on Highway 335 and the Broncos’ team bus, which was traveling northbound on Highway 35.
Zablocki said the RCMP sent “quite a few” units initially, and that more than 50 members were either at or around the scene.
He called the RCMP response “unprecedented” for the province.
Injured passengers were transported to hospitals in Saskatoon and are now with family, Zablocki said.
The driver and lone occupant of the semi was not injured in the collision, Zablocki said. Investigation into the cause of the collision is ongoing.
“Our investigators will be looking into all aspects of this collision to determine exactly what took place. This is a very involved investigation and due to the large amount of evidence, information and the number of victims, this work will take some time. It’s too early to comment on the cause of the collision and we will continue to provide updates as this investigation progresses.”
Zablocki said that appropriate resources, specialized investigators and collision reconstructionists were on scene.
The driver of the semi was taken into custody as part of the process of the investigation, Zablocki said. Once investigative processes were implemented, the driver was released.
Zablocki said it is still too early to determine whether criminal charges will be laid as a result of the accident.
“When these things happen, there are a number of avenues that need to be considered. We look at, obviously, weather conditions, road conditions, mechanical conditions of the vehicles as well as the condition of the drivers of the vehicles.”
Team president Kevin Garinger spoke on behalf of the Broncos organization.
“We are heartbroken and completely devastated by the tragedy that occurred yesterday. Our eternal gratitude goes out to the Humboldt and Nipawin fire departments, paramedics, the RCMP, emergency services crews and witnesses for their selfless acts of bravery while trying to help those in need, our Humboldt Broncos.”
Garinger said he was grateful to Nipawin Hawks president Darren Opp for providing information to him immediately following the crash. It was after Opp’s call that Garinger and the remainder of the board could begin the process of working through the tragedy.
“Our organization is working closely with the City of Humboldt emergency operations centre to handle the immediate needs related to this crisis. While we try and move forward as an organization in the community we will never forget April 6, 2018 and we will never forget the members of our Broncos family who were taken from us or injured.”
SJHL president Bill Chow said the league has not yet made a decision about the rest of the season.
“We will have conversations as to what the Humboldt Broncos want to do,” he said.
“We will then have some discussions with the governors of our league and whatever decision we make, we’re going to do what we think is in the best interest of everybody involved. There are going to be some people who disagree with whatever we decide and there’s going to be people who agree with what we decide. And so at the end of the day, what we’re going to do is what we think is right.”