A committee recommending how to distribute $15.2 million raised in a GoFundMe campaign after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says more money should be given to the families of those who died than to those who were injured.
The advisory group, which is made up of five people, suggests that the court approve a total payout of $525,000 for each of the 16 families who lost a loved one in April when the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi collided in rural Saskatchewan. It is also recommending a total of $475,000 for each of the 13 surviving players.
Both payouts would include an interim payment of $50,000 already approved in August.
A committee report released Thursday said the figures are based on discussions with the 29 families in the last few months.
“Each and every member of the advisory committee understands all too well that no amount of money will replace the loved ones lost by family members, partners and close friends,” said the report.
“They also understand that those survivors who may have been permanently disabled as a result of the accident would never choose money over their ability to live the life they once had.”
The majority of families said in their initial reports that the GoFundMe money should be divided and paid to each family in equal amounts.
“They gave different reasons for that opinion,” the committee wrote. “One reason was that it would be the easiest and simplest approach.”
Officials said two other themes emerged as they continued their discussions: that an equal amount was always intended, and that the 29 families had become friends since the crash and didn’t want the payouts to damage those relationships.
Three families said the “only choice” was splitting the money equally, but it became clear to the committee that not all of the families supported the idea.
“A number of families of those who lost their lives in the crash feel that they have been more adversely affected than the survivors and their families,” said the report.
In its analysis, the committee said it agrees that the fundraiser was intended to benefit all 29 people on the bus, but noted that dividing it equally among the families wouldn’t necessarily be fair and reasonable.
“The first most obvious difference is that 16 of the 29 passengers on the bus died, leaving their loved ones with profound grief, anguish and depression,” committee members said.
“The other 13 passengers have their life. Some of those 13 have their health. Their families can celebrate their survival and take pride in their accomplishments.
“There is a huge difference in emotional circumstances between most of the families who lost a loved one and most of the families who did not.”
The committee said the circumstances of the survivors are also far from equal, but the families of the four most severely injured players strongly believed all the survivors should be treated the same.
“They were simply not motivated by monetary concerns,” said the report. “One parent told us that what they needed was prayers, not money.”
The recommendations still need to be approved at a court appearance set for Wednesday.
Committee members included retired Saskatchewan justice Dennis Ball; Mark Chipman, chairman of the company that owns the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets; Olympic gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser; Dr. Peter Spafford, who’s in charge of head and neck surgery at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine; and Kevin Cameron, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response.
All of the people involved in the crash will still be entitled to money from any insurance payouts. Some have also received help from individual fundraisers.
— By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton.
The Canadian Press