Weekend tragedy impacts all

A serious collision was reported to RCMP on Friday, April 6. After further investigation, the accident was found to involve a semi truck and the team bus of the Humboldt Broncos.

The Broncos were driving north on Highway 35 towards Nipawin to play the fifth game of their SJHL semifinal series against the Nipawin Hawks. The accident occurred at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335, where the truck, travelling westbound on Highway 335, collided with the bus.

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Multiple RCMP detachments and the Tisdale Fire Department responded to the accident.

In Nipawin, concerned fans from both teams waited at the Centennial Arena. They later moved to the Nipawin Apostolic Church, which was used as a gathering point for family and friends as they waited for news from the RCMP.

Meanwhile in Humboldt, fans began to gather at the Elgar Petersen Arena to wait for any news of their team.

At first, 28 people were reported to be on the bus. That number was later revised to 29.

RCMP confirmed reports of casualties and deaths at the scene late Friday night, saying 14 people on the Humboldt bus had been killed in the collision. The 15 remaining occupants of the bus were all injured, with three in critical condition.

Hospitals in surrounding communities were put on code orange – a disaster or mass casualty event.

Several team personnel were airlifted to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. Multiple people in Humboldt, Nipawin and Saskatoon offered their homes to family and friends of the victims without a place to stay.

The next day, RCMP confirmed one of the injured people had died, bringing the death toll to 15, where it stood as of Tuesday morning.

Collision reconstructionists and investigators were taken to the scene to determine the events leading up to the accident.

The driver of the semi truck was uninjured. RCMP have not pressed charges in the accident as of Tuesday morning.

On April 7, Humboldt firefighters lowered the large flag near Highway 5 to half-mast.

A GoFundMe page was started to raise money for the victims’ families and the community. As of Tuesday morning, more than $7 million had been raised through the page.

News of the accident spread around the world, with news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Fox News and others running stories. In Humboldt, multiple Canadian news outlets had crews at the
Humboldt Uniplex.

World figures, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Queen Elizabeth II and US President Donald Trump, all issued statements of condolence on Twitter.

Other hockey teams, including the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets offered financial support for those affected. All NHL clubs wore Humboldt Broncos stickers on their helmets as a sign of tribute during games on Saturday. During their Saturday game in Winnipeg, the Blackhawks and Jets replaced the last names on every players’ jersey with the word, “BRONCOS”.

A vigil was organized at the Elgar Petersen Arena on Sunday, April 8. Rev. Matteo Carboni officiated the service, which was broadcast nationally. The vigil featured scripture readings from a number of regional worship leaders, as well as performances by local artists Araba Quaye and Murray Pilgrim.

Broncos players Mathieu Gomercic and Nick Shumlanski, who had been injured in the accident but were released from hospital, attended the vigil.

A concurrent candlelight vigil was held in Nipawin at the Apostolic Church. Vigils have been held in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan to honour the victims of the crash.

Both the SJHL and MJHL postponed their playoffs after the accident. There is not yet word on when or if the SJHL will continue its postseason. Broncos president Kevin Garinger confirmed that the team would not continue the season, but would ice a team next season.

With files from Christopher Lee/Humboldt Journal and Devan C. Tasa/Tisdale Recorder

© Copyright Humboldt Journal

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