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Town Gathers at Hockey Arena to Mourn Crash Victims

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

HUMBOLDT, Saskatchewan - The people of this small town grieved at their hockey arena Sunday, laying flowers and jerseys in a makeshift memorial at the entrance and later gathering inside to mourn the deaths of 15 people when a semi-trailer slammed into the bus carrying the local youth hockey team.

The 14 others on the bus were injured, some critically, in Friday night's collision, which has Canada, its national sport and the hockey-obsessed town of Humboldt reeling. Among the dead are Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan, team captain Logan Schatz and radio announcer Tyler Bieber.

Team President Kevin Garinger choked back tears as he read out the names of the 15 dead. People embraced each other, crying. Boxes of Kleenex were passed down rows.

Behind them, flowers ringed the team logo at center ice. In front of them, there were pictures of the dead and injured.

Humboldt pastor Sean Brandow, the team chaplain, said he was on his way to the Broncos game Friday and arrived at the scene right after the collision. He described hearing the cries and holding the hand of a lifeless body.

"I walked up and saw a scene I never want to see again, heard sounds I never want to hear again," Brandow said.

While most of the players were from elsewhere in western Canada, they were put up by families in the small town of Humboldt. Billeting families are a large part of junior hockey, with players spending years with host families.

As the names of the dead emerge, "it's getting harder and harder," Humboldt Mayor Rob Muench said. "This is going to be a long haul for us."

The Broncos were a close-knit team who dyed their hair blond for the playoffs. The bus was driving the team to a crucial playoff game Friday against the Nipawin Hawks. Garinger said the team will continue next year and won't disband.

The home page of the team's website was replaced with a silhouette of a man praying beneath the Broncos' logo of a mustang.

Canadian police said the truck driver, who was not hurt, was initially detained but later released and provided with mental health assistance. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said it was too early to state a cause for the crash. Police have not said whether the driver was impaired.

Police said a lot of issues remained to be investigated in the bus crash, including weather conditions at the time and any mechanical issues with the vehicles.

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April 9, 2018
 
 
 

 

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