A tragic accident in Western Canada has taken the lives of at least 14 people and forever changed the world of junior hockey. A bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos was hit by a truck on Friday night, killing 14 and injuring 14 more.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement that 28 people were on board the bus when it was hit by a semi at about 5 p.m. on Highway 35 north of Tisdale.
Humboldt is a Junior ‘A’ team open to North American players between 16 and 20. The Broncos play in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and were on the way to play Game 5 of a league semifinal playoff series against the Nipawin Hawks.
The team’s Twitter account still advertises tickets to the team’s banquet dinner, originally scheduled to take place later Saturday night. Instead, the team will hold a press conference Saturday afternoon to give more details about those that have died.
The quotes from a TSN story about the accident are just heartbreaking.
“It’s one of the hardest days of my life,” said Kevin Garinger.
“There have been multiple fatalities — our whole community is in shock, we are grieving and we will continue to grieve throughout this ordeal as we try to work toward supporting each other.”
With players from all over the continent on the roster, the last 24 hours have been a whirlwind for families trying to get information about their children living and playing away from home.
Michelle Straschnitzki, who lives in Airdrie, said her 18-year old son Ryan has been taken to hospital in Saskatoon.
“We talked to him, but he said he couldn’t feel his lower extremities so I don’t know what’s going on,” she said, noting she will go to Saskatchewan on Saturday.
“I am freaking out. I am so sad for all of the teammates and I am losing my mind.”
With news of the tragedy came an outpouring of support for the team and the community the team plays in. Hockey is a sport built on long bus rides from rink to rink, and news of an accident of this magnitude was heartbreaking.
The NHL, Hockey Canada, and many other teams expressed their sympathies to the team and families on Friday and Saturday night.
Media caught a touching scene where the Mayor of Humboldt lay flowers on the steps of the Broncos’ home rink.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau also expressed his condolences on Twitter.
With little known about the extent of injuries and who on the team was involved, a medical fund was established and quickly gathered donations.
There was no word given by the RCMP about the state of the semi’s driver and if any charges will be filed in the accident.