Year in Review: Humboldt Broncos tragedy shocks the world

By Charlene Tebbutt
December 29, 2018 - 8:00am

As 2018 draws to a close, paNOW is taking a look back on the most important and impactful stories of the year, as selected by our reporters and editorial staff.

It was a crash that shocked the nation and led to an outpouring of support from around the world.

The deaths of 16 people and 13 more injured in the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash from April was one of the most talked-about events of 2018.

The crash happened April 6, 2018 around 5 p.m. as the Humboldt Broncos hockey team traveled to Nipawin for an SJHL playoff game. The bus the Broncos were riding in collided with a semi-truck about 30 kilometres north of Tisdale, near the junction of Highway 335.

A day after the fatal crash, Broncos President Kevin Garinger talked of the heartbreak and grief that rocked a nation.

"We will never forget April 6, 2018. We will never forget the members of our Broncos family who were taken from us and who were injured,” Garinger said.

In the days that followed, vigils were organized in several communities, a GoFundMe page was set up and grief set in. Community members, first responders, families and teammates were advised to reach out for help and support. Humboldt Mayor Rob Muench urged people to support one another.

"I think everyone can relate to this experience,” Muench said. “Throughout Canada we see teams going out into the Canadian winters on buses all the time. It's always a thought in parents' minds about what can happen and unfortunately it has happened," he said.

"There is no playbook on what to do in cases like this. We're asking for everyone's support and consideration in the coming days, months and years it's going to take us to get through it. But we will get through it.”

Fundraising surpasses goal

People showed their support for the families affected in one of the only ways they could. The GoFundMe page raised more than $1 million on just the first day alone, eventually totaling more than $15 million. The money was divided between families involved in the crash and went toward a new memorial fund. The crowdfunding campaign raised the largest amount ever in Canadian history. A review committee is working to determine how the money will be split between families.

Optimism and strength

Within hours of the crash, those who were injured shared updates and photos as they recovered in hospital. As some families planned funerals for their loved ones, others planned for a long recovery. Just weeks after the crash, Ryan Straschnitzki, talked about moving forward. Straschnitzki was paralyzed in the crash.

"It's kind of amazing that my body was able to survive and I could get out of that alive. I'm just so grateful,” he said.

By the fall of 2018, Straschnitzki and fellow teammate Jacob Wasserman were back on the ice, playing sledge hockey as part of their new reality.

RCMP investigation leads to charges

It was July by the time investigators announced charges in relation to the crash. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 29, was charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death, and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Sidhu’s case is currently making its way through the courts.

Broncos get back on the ice

With the start of a new hockey season in September, the Broncos took to the ice once again, with new board members, a new president and new head coach. The Broncos once again boarded a bus to travel to Nipawin for the start of the new season. But, there would be more change yet. After just six months on the job, Head Coach Nathan Oystrick announced Friday he was no longer with the team.

A memorial where the April 6 crash happened was put into place shortly after the incident. 

Earlier in December, a report was released saying a stand of trees that that blocks drivers’ views as they approach the intersection. The province said the words 'Stop' and 'Stop Ahead' have already been painted onto the road and that plans are also in the works to add rumble strips on the road.

 

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On Twitter: @CharleneTebbutt

From the Premier’s desk: Moe reviews 2018

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