Canadian Police say 15 Dead After Hockey Bus Crash

April 07, 2018 04:44 PM

Fifteen people are dead and another 14 are injured after a bus carrying a Canadian hockey team was involved in a crash late Friday in Saskatchewan.

Nipawin Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed the accident and said 29 people were on the bus, which was carrying a youth hockey team called the Humboldt Broncos. At least two of the injuries were considered critical, the RCMP said.

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"We are not confirming the identity of the victims at this time, including whether the deceased are players or coaches," Nipawin RCMP said in a statement. "We will be working with our partner agencies to ensure families are notified as soon as possible and the appropriate supports are provided to families and others who are impacted by this extremely tragic incident."

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According to CTV, the bus was T-boned by a tractor trailer traveling westbound on Highway 35. The bus, which was going north, was ferrying the team to a game in Nipawin at the time of the accident.

"Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the families of our staff and athletes as well as to all who have been impacted by this horrible tragedy," Broncos President Kevin Garinger said. "Our Broncos family is in shock as we try to come to grips with our incredible loss."

Granger added, "While we try and move forward as an organization and community, we will never forget April 6, 2018, and we will never forget the members of our Broncos family who were taken from us and who were injured."

Nipawin, Saskatchewan, is about three hours northeast of Saskatoon, the Canadian province's most populous city.

"Words can not describe the loss that we feel tonight," Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said on Facebook. "The news I have heard is difficult to comprehend.

"Tonight, we all must pray for these families."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also sent his condolences on Twitter to the families of those killed and injured in the accident.

President Donald Trump also offered his condolences.

The mayor of Humboldt, Rob Muench, said he spoke to Trudeau, who relayed condolences from other world leaders.

The driver of the tractor trailer, who was not identified, was initially detained but has since been released, according to the authorities. The driver and a passenger were not injured.

The cause of the accident was still under investigation.

The Broncos play in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, an under-20 youth league that regularly produces NHL players. Rod Brind'Amour, Curtis Joseph, Ron Hextall and Chris Chelios are among the former NHL stars who played in the SJHL. Bill McDougall, who played three seasons in the NHL and set records in the AHL, is an alumni of the Humboldt Broncos.

Bill Chow, the president of the league, said it hasn't been determined if the rest of the season will continue. He added that he'll confer with the governors of the league and do whatever is in the best interest of the everyone involved.

Michelle Straschnitzki, who lives in Airdrie, said her 18-year old son Ryan had been taken to a hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

"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. "I am freaking out. I am so sad for all of the teammates and I am losing my mind."

The team was on its way to play in Game 5 of a semi-final against the Nipawin Hawks.

Darren Opp, president of the Hawks, said the semi T-boned the 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 were 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 OK.

"It's terrible. It's absolutely terrible."

Pastor Jordan Gadsby at the Apostolic Church in Nipawin said more than a hundred people had gathered at the church — including parents and grandparents of the players who were on the bus.

"Lots of them are waiting for information," he said. "Some of the families have gotten information and have gone to be with their kids. Some of them are waiting to hear if their kids are alive."

Garinger said the Broncos are a close-knit team from the small city of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, which has a population of about 6,000.

Garinger said he still didn't know the fate of one of the players living in his home.

"We don't know who has passed and we don't expect to know right away," he said. "We know that the coroner and their office needs to do their work and let families know."

Garinger said all the team can do now is help the players and their families any way they can.

"We just need to try to support each other as we deal with this incredible loss to our community, to our province, to our hockey world."

Kevin Henry, a coach who runs a hockey school in Prince Albert, said he knows players on the team.

"This is I would think one of the darkest days in the history of Saskatchewan, especially because hockey is so ingrained in how we grow up here," he said.

STARS air ambulance said it sent three helicopters to the scene.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

 

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