Canada, the hockey community, and the small town of Humboldt are still reeling from a tragic crash that claimed 15 lives after a bus carrying a Junior hockey team collided with a tractor-trailer in central Saskatchewan late Friday.
The bus was on its way to a semi-final game in which the Humboldt Broncos were set to take on the Nipawin Hawks on Friday night. No one on the bus escaped without injuries and some of those who remain in hospital are in critical condition. At least one surviving player “can’t feel anything below his waist,” according to his father. The ages of those killed ranged from 16 to 59 and the youngest killed, Adam Herold (who has been described as a “phenom”) was just 16 years old.
Of those killed in the crash 10 were players: Logan Boulet, 21, Logan Hunter, 18, Jaxon Joseph, 20, Parker Tobin, 17, Jacob Leicht, 18, Conner Lukan, 21, Evan Thomas, 18, Stephen Wack, 21, Adam Herold, 16, Logan Schatz, 20,; two were coaches, Darcy Haugan, 42 and Mark Cross, 27; one was the team’s statistician, Brody Hinz, 18; one was the team’s radio play-by-play announcer, Tyler Bieber, 29; and one was the bus driver, Glen Doerksen, 59—you can read small profiles Maclean’s put together of those killed here.
To somehow make matters worse, two of the young men involved in the crash, one killed, the other surviving, were misidentified as each other by the Office of the Coroner in Saskatchewan. Xavier Labelle was initially labeled as one of those killed and Parker Tobin as surviving the crash, however, the coroner’s office corrected their mistake on Monday stating that Labelle survived and Tobin was killed in the accident.
In a statement, the coroner’s office apologized to the Tobin family and expressed their condolences to them, and the other families impacted by the tragedy.
The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured in the crash and RCMP have not released the cause of the crash as of yet.
Over the weekend, images of the crash site emerged showing just how catastrophic the collision was. The front end of the bus was obliterated and the roof was torn off. The truck portion of the tractor-trailer remained on its side, its rear wheels twisted, but the trailer was completely destroyed and its cargo was strewn across the road. Belongings of the players such as playing cards and a broken DVD copy of Slap Shot were also seen near the crash site.
The intersection has a history of fatal accidents. The Globe and Mail reported that locals in the area have dubbed the location Armley Corner and know the dangers of the crossing well. Just meters away from where the crash took place six white crosses line the road in memory to an Albertan family that was killed there in 1997.
The CBC broke down the site where the crash occurred and found that the bus would have had the right of way with the tractor-trailer approaching a flashing stop sign. The area in which the truck was coming from would have been obscured to the bus driver due to a bush. The speed limit at the crossing where the crash took place is 100 kilometres an hour.
An immense outpouring of support came from across Canada with politicians, emergency responders and everyday people expressing their grief and shock from the crash. The pain in the sports community after seeing the tragedy transcended across both sports and leagues. From the NHL, to the MLB, to the NLL tributes and condolences poured in to honour the team and the 15 people who died.
Meanwhile, everyday Canadians hoping to help out have been flocking to a GoFundMe that will be going to the family and those affected by the crash. The campaign, which was started on Saturday, is now Canada’s largest with almost $5 million raised since Friday.
A vigil was held in Humboldt, a town of roughly 6,000 people, for those killed drawing hundreds to the Broncos home rink on Sunday. The gathering took place when the sixth game in the series was to take place and those in the arena held a moment of silence when—if this tragedy hadn’t happen—the puck would have been dropped.
One of the players, Logan Boulet, is being praised as a hero after it was found that he was an organ donor. A family friend of the Boulet, Neil Langevin, wrote that six people will receive Boulet’s organs—he described the young man as having a “selfless and benevolent nature.” Boulet turned 21 just weeks ago which is when he signed the organ donor card.
“Logan's strong heart continues to beat, allowing a surgical team from the U of A hospital to travel to Saskatoon for organ transplant procedures,” wrote Langevin on Facebook. “There have been matches made for all vital organs, including a patient set to receive his heart and lungs. All counted, six people will receive the gift of life from Logan.”
In addition to Sunday’s vigil other, smaller, tributes have been made for those killed. One came from the younger brother of Stephen Wack, a 21-year-old defenceman with the team, who reached out to the public via Twitter. The man described his brother as the “most selfless, modest, and humble person imaginable” and asked Hockey Night in Canada to play a video that Stephen created, summarizing his 2017. Hockey Night in Canada did play the video and you can watch it here.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter