Ed. note: This is the version of this story as it was published 24 hours after the April 6, 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash …
A 15th person has died after a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team collided with a semi-trailer unit north of Tisdale.
RCMP initially said 14 people had died Friday in the crash, but on Saturday afternoon, police said in a news release that another person had died.
Fourteen others on the bus were injured, some of them critically. The RCMP initially reported there were 28 people on the bus, but corrected that number Saturday morning to 29.
Postmedia News has confirmed the identities of 14 of the people on the bus who died, including head coach Darcy Haugan who was into his third year as head coach and general manager of the Humboldt Broncos.The driver of the semi was not injured.
Haugan, a native of Peace River, Alta, and his wife Christina, who is employed as office manager for the Broncos, have two boys, Carson and Jackson, who have called Humboldt home since Christmas of 2015.
In Haugan’s first season, the Broncos missed the playoffs for the first time in 36 years with a 17-36-4-1 record, but Haugan turned the team’s fortunes around to guide the team to a 31-35-1-1 record last season and 33-19-3-3 record this season.
In 2015, Haugan’s dedication to the game earned him Hockey Alberta’s prestigious Meritorious Award for contribution to the game of hockey.
Brody Hinz, the team’s volunteer statistician, died in the crash.
He had an amazing mind for stats and he was a huge asset to the coaching staff,” Humboldt Broncos president Kevin Garinger said, noting that Hinz travelled with the Junior A hockey team “on a regular basis.”
“That just speaks volumes to who this young man is. He will be sadly missed,” the club president added in an interview early Saturday afternoon.
Also among the fatalities was Broncos assistant coach Mark Cross. Cross, a native of Strasbourg, Sask., was “passionate about the game” — and inspired that same passion in the kids he mentored.
He played for the midget AA Lumsden Bethune Lions. Years later, he coached the same team in the 2016-17 season, before moving on to Humboldt. Lions head coach Scott Frizzell remembers him as a “great leader.”
“He made an impression… that won’t soon be forgotten,” said Frizzell.
Bolt FM personality and play-by-play broadcaster for the Humboldt Broncos Tyler Bieber was on the bus and died in the crash.
In a post on Facebook, his brother Brandon said, “I don’t know what to do or say right now but I know one thing is you will always be true in my heart, RIP my sweet brother, I miss you and love you dearly.”
Postmedia News initially learned from an extended family member that defenceman Logan Boulet, 21, died in the crash. On Saturday, he was said to be on life support so his organs can be donated.
“He was very caring, that’s the best way to describe him,” said Tyson Brouwer, who grew up with Boulet in Lethbridge. “He had a lot of friends. Nobody ever said anything bad about him — he was a really kind-hearted kid.”
Humboldt Broncos’ left-winger Jacob Leicht is among those who did not survive Friday’s horrific crash.”
“My heart is broken. Your laughter was so contagious and you had a smile that lit up any room. I wish we had more time … it seems so unfair,” said Cassidy Tolley in a Facebook post made Saturday.
Broncos defenceman Xavier Labelle, who died in the crash, is remembered as a hard-working hockey player who also excelled as a piano player and a student.
Labelle, who was born in Saskatoon, was in his second year playing for the Humboldt Broncos. He was invited to the Saskatoon Blades training camp in 2014 and 2016 and played with the Contacts in the Telus Cup in 2016.
Slave Lake native Conner Lukan was one of the 15 people killed, a person affiliated with the team confirmed Saturday afternoon.
The 21-year-old forward, who only joined the team this season after spending three seasons with the Spruce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, was one of seven players on the team with roots in Alberta.
A former Surrey Eagles player from Edmonton, Jaxon Joseph also died in the crash. Eagles general manager Blaine Neufeld, who was Joseph’s coach for the 2015-16 season, described him as “a glue guy” who got along with everyone and kept the team together.
“What happened hasn’t sunk in. It’s so hard to wrap your head around an accident like that. It’s so hard to process. It’s nice to see how fast the support is coming from everyone, people trying to help in any which way they can.”
Stephen Wack, a 21-year-old defenceman from St. Albert, was killed.
Raised in St. Albert, Wack began his career with the Broncos in 2016, after a season with the Whitecourt Wolverines. A family member said Saturday that Wack’s parents are in Saskatchewan.
Right winger Evan Thomas died in the crash. He is remembered as a boy who was “devoted” to hockey.
Thomas comes from a hockey family. His father, Scott Thomas of Naicam, Sask., once played for the Moose Jaw Warriors. He is now the president of the Saskatoon Blazers. The team sent out an email saying they had “lost a loved one” in the crash.
Adam Herold, who was to turn 17 on Thursday, was among those who died.
He captained the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s Regina Pat Canadians during the 2017-18 season. A defenceman from Montmartre, Herold was called up to the Broncos after the Pat Canadians were eliminated from the playoffs. He played in nine games, including eight in the post-season, with the 2017-18 Broncos.
Humboldt Broncos captain Logan Schatz, 20, of Allan, Sask., did not survive the crash.
Kelly Schatz, Logan’s father, told The Canadian Press his son played for the Broncos for just over four years, and had served as team captain for the past two and a half years. He said his son’s death is hard and the family is seeking solace in one another.
Schatz was one of the league’s “best-kept secrets in scouting circles” and a top-three pre-season favourite to win the league scoring title last season, according to a recent profile published by the SJHL. That plan was derailed by a “freak elbow injury” last year, but the left-shooting centre recovered and scored 18 goals in the first 48 games of the 2017-18 season, the league said in the profile.
Family members of Broncos’ athletic therapist Dayna Brons said Saturday evening that Brons was in hospital in Saskatoon.
According to a Discover Humboldt article published in 2016, Brons is from Lake Lenore and a graduate of the University of Regina. She is reported to love being around hockey and sports.
Humboldt Broncos defenceman Morgan Gobeil survived but was among those severely injured in the crash.
Gobeil is a hometown product and one of four Humboldt players on the team’s playoff roster.
Ryan Straschnitzki, an 18-year-old defenceman from Airdrie, Alta., is in hospital with a broken back after the crash.
“I am grateful Ryan is alive and so heartbroken for the families of the lost,” Ryan’s mother Michelle said. “We don’t know much yet, but Ryan is going into surgery at some point.”
Forward Kaleb Dahlgren, an assistant captain from Saskatoon, was also severely injured.
An insulin-dependant Type 1 diabetic, Dahlgren played midget AAA hockey for the Battlefords North Stars and joined the Broncos from the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds.
Derek Patter, a 19-year-old centre from Edmonton is among the 14 passengers to survive the collision, his father describing him in stable condition after being airlifted to Saskatoon.
This season, his second as a member of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, is his first with the Humboldt Broncos.
La Ronge native Bryce Fiske was among those who survived the crash.
The hard-hitting 5-foot-11 defenceman had played the previous three seasons with the Ice Wolves and was traded to the contending Broncos.
Goaltender Jacob Wasserman is among the survivors of the crash.
He was in Saskatoon on Saturday, according to his great-aunt Phyllis Wasserman, who was reached in Humboldt. Not sure if he was in surgery already or not, she said he was supposed to have surgery on his back and might be paralyzed.
“For us it’s like a dark cloud is hanging and I just can’t imagine what the immediate family is going through,” she said. “It’s hard enough for us.”
Centre Nick Shumlanski’s father, Myles, confirmed that his son was released from hospital in good condition after receiving treatment for broken bones, including injuries to his shoulder and a small crack in a vertebra.
He first went to the Tisdale hospital and then to Saskatoon for further treatment. Myles said a doctor called his son a “miracle,” as he was one of the only Broncos players able to get up and walk immediately after the collision Friday.
Humboldt Broncos defenceman Layne Matechuk, 18, was being treated at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital on Saturday after he was severely injured in the collision.
His grandfather, George Matechuk, said Layne, from Colonsay, Sask., was in a coma with severe head and upper body injuries. He described Layne’s condition as “very serious, but stable.”
“Our son and his wife, they’re really taking it hard,” George said.
DRIVER OF SEMI NOT INJURED
Curtis Zablocki, Assistant Commissioner of the Saskatchewan RCMP, said at a news conference on Saturday that the driver and lone occupant of the semi was not injured. He was detained initially as part of the investigation, but is not in custody.
“He is also being provided with some mental health and wellness assistance,” Zablocki said.
laude Gobeil, managing director at Premier Tech’s Carrot River operation, said in an interview that the truck involved was hauling peat moss from Carrot River into Alberta at the time of the collision. However, because the company uses outside contractors to haul its products, he was unable to confirm what trucking company was hauling this specific load.
“I don’t know what to say. I just wish it hadn’t happened,” he said. “It was a pickup load, you know where the customer organizes his own trucks. So this was an outside truck coming in, it wasn’t one of our own — it’s not us who booked it.”
Gobeil did confirm that he has been in touch with the RCMP to organize the cleanup of the scattered peat moss bundles after officers conclude their investigation at the crash site.
He said that his thoughts and prayers are going out to the victims and their families.
Parents and family seeking information about their family members who may have been in this collision can call 306-752-8700.
The father of player Derek Patter, who survived the crash, shared an image of his son and two other players in the hospital.
The collision happened at about 5 p.m. Friday on Highway 35 about 30 kilometres north of Tisdale, about halfway into the Broncos’ trip to Nipawin from Humboldt for Game 5 of their Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) semifinal series against the Nipawin Hawks. Nipawin is about 265 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.
Saskatchewan Heath Authority spokeswoman Jennifer Lyons said Friday night that the organization was in a “Code Orange,” meaning casualties were incoming to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.
Dr. Hassan Masri, a critical care physician, posted a message on Facebook on Saturday morning about his involvement in the Code Orange event.
“Last night can only be described as the longest, worst and most tragic night of my career. The images can’t be unseen or forgotten, the stories can’t be unheard or ignored,” he wrote.
“Meeting each family and explaining the extent of each injury was nothing short of a painful exercise of cruelty. Families waiting for hours to identify their loved ones and smiling of joy at the idea of a significant injury as long as it meant that their loved one was alive brought chills to my spine.”
“It’s disbelief. It’s shock. The deepest grief that you can ever imagine,” a stunned Kevin Garinger said late Friday night, while driving home to Humboldt from Swift Current.
Garinger is the president of the Humboldt Broncos as well as the local school division’s director of education. He said he was in shock, and struggling to make sense of a terrible tragedy.
“Our organization will never be the same,” Garinger said of the hockey club he loves, one he said aspired to make not only good hockey players but also good young men as well.
“Our thoughts and prayers — everything we have in terms of our energy is directed toward trying to deal with, cope with the loss that’s occurred here,” he said.
Many people gathered at the Elgar Petersen Arena in Humboldt. Sobs could be heard breaking out in pockets as people received news of friends and loved ones on their phones. Others gathered around them, offering tight hugs.
Tim Klimosko, former Broncos assistant coach and long-time Humboldt resident, said it will take the town a long time to recover. But the gathering says much about the town, he said.
Darren Opp, president of the Hawks, said a semi T-boned the Humboldt players’ bus.
“It’s a horrible accident, my God,” he said. “It’s very, very bad.”
Opp said the coaching staff and players from the Hawks are waiting to help.
“They are sitting in the church just waiting to hear any good news,” he said. “I’ve got 50 phone calls at least saying, ‘What do you want?’
“There’s uncles and moms and dads waiting to hear whether their sons and nephews are okay.
“It’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible.”
A motorist who passed the scene sent a photo of the crash site to The StarPhoenix.
Myles Shumlanski, father of Broncos player Nick Shumlanski, said he got a call from his son Friday and they picked him up.
“It’s only a quarter-mile from our house,” he said.
“There are casualties and it’s very bad. We were at the scene helping,” Shumlanski said.
“It was a disaster,” he said. “We had a crane lifting the bus.”
Shumlanski said his son was being flown to Saskatoon after receiving treatment at a hospital in Tisdale.
Pastor Jordan Gadsby at the Apostolic Church in Nipawin welcomed any families to come to the church at 109 Fourth Avenue East.
“We just opened our building here with food and drinks … they can come if they need somewhere to go or someone to talk to,” he said. “There’s not a lot of confirmed information at this point. Families are just waiting to hear from their kids.
“There’s a lot of tears.”
The Nipawin Hawks said on Facebook the game was cancelled.
“The accident being talked about involved Humboldt team bus. We ask during this time that you don’t send messages. When more information is given we will update,” the Hawks posted on Friday evening.
STARS Air Ambulance confirmed it sent three helicopters to the scene.
Nipawin RCMP said in a news release at 6 p.m. that traffic was expected to be blocked or restricted for several hours.
“For those travelling in the area, please use extreme caution around emergency personnel. If at all possible, drivers are asked to avoid the area,” RCMP said.
In Humboldt, Mayor Rob Muench said a mobile crisis centre had been set up at the city’s Uniplex Convention Centre. Muench said the centre had already started filling up with people, and that counsellors were being made available.
“We’re asking people to come down to the Uniplex, Jubilee Hall or the Elgar Peterson Arena just to show some support for the community and each other,” Muench said.
Canalta Hotels said on Facebook that its hotels were available Friday night at no charge for family members of anyone affected by the tragic bus crash.
“If you know of a family member that’s affected by the tragic event in Saskatchewan, and needs to stay close by the hospitals — our hotels are available and we will take care of them. (No charge tonight) Our CanaltaCares team is ready in Melfort, Humboldt Tisdale, and Martensville (Saskatoon).”
SJHL President Bill Chow said he was waiting to learn more details about the crash.
“I go to sleep every night worrying about the kids on buses and everybody else,” he said. “Unfortunately, this happened tonight and we’ll have to wait and see what the facts are.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he couldn’t imagine what the parents were going through, “and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, in the Humboldt community and beyond.”
On Saturday morning, U.S. President Donal Trump tweeted that he had spoken to Trudeau to offer his condolences “to the families of the terrible Humboldt Team tragedy. May God be with them all!”
Premier Scott Moe posted a statement on Facebook, saying, “Words cannot describe the loss that we feel tonight.”
The news is difficult to comprehend, he said.
“To the City of Humboldt, the entire Broncos organization, and the families impacted by this tragedy, please know you are in Saskatchewan’s hearts.”
“From a grieving province, thank you to every one of the first responders and medical professionals for your courageous response under the most difficult circumstances imaginable.
“Tonight, we all must pray for these families.”
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said he and the FSIN executive were sending their condolences to the families.
“Our hearts and prayers are with everyone suffering from this tragedy tonight” Cameron said. “It’s through sport that we realize our full potential, so in this tragedy, we all grieve with the families.”
The WHL tweeted from its official Twitter page that it was keeping the Humboldt Broncos in its thoughts: “Hockey is family.”
The Saskatchewan Hockey Association also said its members would be sending a prayer to the Broncos team members.
“We ask all members of the SaskHockey community to join us in saying a prayer for the Humboldt Broncos team and their families.”
Four members of the Swift Current Broncos were killed in a bus crash in Saskatchewan in 1986.
Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, who was one of the players on the bus in 1986, also sent a message of support.
“Sending all my thoughts and prayers to those impacted with the @HumboltBroncos bus crash.”
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 age of 16 and 20.
Dean Brockman, former longtime coach of the Humboldt Broncos, said it was a terrible, tragic day.
“Anyone who’s ever stepped on the bus to go to a game, people who have done that will recall a lot of bad memories that something almost happened or, when you look at things that did happen, or when you look at things that happened 30 years ago in Swift Current, it brings back a lot of bad memories, for sure,” he said.
Swift Current Broncos head coach Manny Viveiros said he could remember when his team’s bus crashed, and news of the Humboldt team’s tragedy made him feel “in shock.”
“It’s family. It’s not just our community. It’s family,” Viveiros said.
The Swift Current Broncos played the Moose Jaw Warriors Friday night in their WHL playoff series, but Warriors head coach Tim Hunter said they didn’t tell the players about the crash until after the game.
The hockey community is a very tight community and everyone is thinking about those people,” Hunter said.
— With files from Arthur White-Crummey, Mark Melnychuk, Darren Zary, Alex MacPherson, Rob Vanstone, Thia James, Kevin Mitchell, Erin Petrow and The Canadian Press
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