NIPAWIN, Saskatchewan — A semi-trailer slammed into a bus carrying a youth hockey team in western Canada, killing 15 people and injuring 14 in a catastrophic collision that sent shockwaves through the team’s small hometown and a country united by the national sport.
Canadians were moved to tears on Saturday as they learned of the identities of the deceased on the bus that was driving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team to a crucial playoff game Friday against the Nipawin Hawks.
“An entire country is in shock and mourning,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “This is every parent’s worst nightmare. No one should ever have to see their child leave to play the sport they love and never come back.”
The bus had 29 passengers, including the driver, when it crashed about 5 p.m. on Highway 35, police said.
Among the dead are Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan, team captain Logan Schatz and radio announcer Tyler Bieber.
Canadian police said the truck driver was initially detained but has since been released and provided with mental health assistance. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said it’s too early to state a cause for the crash.
In a tweet, President Trump said he called Trudeau to offer his condolences to the families of the victims.
Darren Opp, president of the Nipawin Hawks, said a semi T-boned the players’ bus — an account police confirmed.
“It’s a horrible accident, my God,” Opp said. Hassan Masri, an emergency room doctor at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital who has done work in war-torn Syria, said the crash reminded him of an air strike.
Photographs of the wreckage showed the twisted trailer with most of its wheels in the air and the bus on its side and its back portion destroyed.
The force of the crash sent both vehicles into the ditch at the northwest corner of the intersection. Aerial footage showed the bus on its side, its roof peeled back. The trailer of the truck lay nearby in a shattered mess, with bags of its peat moss cargo scattered all around.
Police said a lot of issues have to be investigated, including weather conditions at the time and any mechanical issues with the vehicles.
The Humboldt Broncos are a close-knit team from the city of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, which has a population of about 6,000. Many gathered at the community center at the hockey arena there after word of the horrific crash began to circulate.
Humboldt Mayor Rob Muench, wearing a green and yellow Broncos team jersey, hugged people Saturday morning as they came to the Elger Petersen Arena in the Saskatchewan town to comfort each other and learn more.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s been tough on everybody,” Muench said in a phone interview. “We’re a small community; some of those kids have been on the team for a number of years. A lot grew up in the community and everybody knows each other.”
The team was on its way to play in Game 5 of a semi-final against the Nipawin Hawks.
“Hockey was what brought us all together and we had two communities that were rivals in the rink. To find out that it was their first responders that aided our boys just warms your heart,” the mayor said as his voice cracked.
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is a junior ‘A’ hockey league under Hockey Canada, which is part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. It’s open to North American-born players between the ages of 16 and 20.
“We are heartbroken and completely devastated,” team president Kevin Garinger said. “We will never forget the members of our Broncos family who were taken from us and who were injured.”
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Publish date : 2018-04-08 01:48:46