A sentencing hearing is being held this week for the driver of a transport truck involved in a deadly crash with the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu pleaded guilty earlier this month to dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
The loved ones of many of the 16 people killed and 13 injured in the collision last April submitted victim impact statements to the court.
Here are excerpts from what the families of those who died said:
Marilyn Hay, mother of Tyler Bieber, 29, a play-by-play announcer from Humboldt, Sask.
“My last message from Tyler was at 3 p.m. April 6 to say he was on the bus. You see, Tyler would often drive on his own and I would always say why can’t you go on the bus? To me it was the safest. Part of me felt guilty then. The last, ‘I love you mom. Have a great day’ came three days earlier on my birthday, April 3. My birthday will never be the same.”
Toby Boulet, father of defenceman Logan Boulet, 21, from Lethbridge, Alta.
“I need to tell Mr. Sidhu that I do not believe that he got out of bed on the morning of April 6, 2018, to cause a crash that would ultimately kill our only son Logan. I do not believe Mr. Sidhu is an inherently evil person that feels no remorse. I believe that he feels tremendous remorse and wishes with all the fibers of his being that this tragedy would never have happened.
“I believe Mr. Sidhu wishes he could start April 6 all over again. I want the same … I want to start April 6 all over again.”
Carol Brons, mother of Dayna Brons, 24, athletic therapist from Lake Lenore, Sask.
“I’ve become so focused on my grief and what I no longer have. Celebrating birthdays, weddings, births, Christmas feels so hollow and lonely because Dayna’s laughter will never be part of these things.
“We had to plan a private funeral in our small parish church before the public service. This private funeral of 400-plus people was the church that we thought we would be celebrating Dayna’s wedding. Where we thought we would be walking her down the aisle to greet her happy, loving groom. Yes, we did walk her down the aisle, but we weren’t escorting a bride. We were escorting a casket.”
Marilyn Cross, mother of Mark Cross, 27, assistant coach from Strasbourg, Sask.
“Mr. Sidhu, I grieve for you as well. I am not sure I am yet ready to forgive the choice you made that fateful night of April 6, 2018, but I don’t hate you. When I look at you, I see a young man not much older than our son Mark. I grieve for the guilt you must carry for the rest of your days. I don’t know if you are married or have children, but I grieve for the loss your family will experience. I grieve for the loss of your freedom and future. No one will escape the horrors of this tragedy.
“In your future, I hope you make every effort to live a productive life doing good wherever you go. Make the world a better place just like our son Mark did.”
Melissa Doerksen, daughter of Glen Doerksen, 59, bus driver from Carrot River, Sask.
“It’s difficult to put into words how our lives have changed since April 6, 2018. The constant pain, sadness, loneliness, and emptiness of not having Dad in our lives is some days unbearable.
“We’re working towards finding understanding and forgiveness because that’s what my dad would have wanted.”
Christina Haugan, wife of head coach Darcy Haugan, 42, of Humboldt, Sask.
“I want to tell you that I forgive you. There are days while the unjustness and sadness are definitely still there, but I have been forgiven for things when I didn’t deserve it, so I will do the same.”
Russ Herold, father of defenceman Adam Herold, 16, from Montmartre, Sask.
“I hope that now and forever you remember Adam Herold and the names of the other 28 people on the bus that day. Their lives and that of their families are changed forever because of your actions. We will never know did we lose a great farmer, an NHL hockey player, a lawyer, a doctor, a future premier, maybe the prime minister of our great country? But I know I lost a piece of my soul, and my heart, my love, my son.”
Darlene Hinz, mother of Brody Hinz, 18, the team’s statistician from Humboldt, Sask.
“My emotions are all over the place. I am angry, frustrated, confused, crying lots, getting pissed off when people tell me to stay strong. Emotionally drained.”
Shauna Nordstrom, mother of forward Logan Hunter, 18, from St. Albert, Alta.
“I continue to feel empty and keep Logan’s bedroom door closed so his smell won’t disappear and while I cry, laying on his bed, I can’t breathe. I feel numb and lost. Logan was my only son. I remember the day he was born. My life felt complete … two beautiful daughters and now a son.
“The day he was gone my life was destroyed. My heart forever broken. The details of this accident and the way my son died never stop haunting me. My life is forever changed.”
Andrea Joseph, mother of centre Jaxon Joseph, 21, from St. Albert, Alta.
“I am the mourning mother of Jaxon Joseph, who died on April 6, 2018, at your expense when you decided to play God and drive through a stop sign and cross a major highway knowing damn well you could hit a vehicle and injure or kill someone. Who gave you the right to make that decision?
“You hurt my baby. You broke him, and for this I will never forgive you. You don’t deserve my forgiveness.”
Celeste Leicht, mother of forward Jacob Leicht, 19, from Humboldt, Sask.
“Jacob chose not to hold grudges and he chose to learn from his mistakes. I choose forgiveness. I choose to work at forgiving others.
“It’s a mistake the trucking industry is not held to a higher standard across the country and our federal and provincial governments aren’t jumping all over this to change laws in a much more significant way. We must learn from our mistakes. I choose to fight for change.”
Robin Lukan, mother of forward Conner Lukan, 21, from Slave Lake, Alta.
“I’m here today to look at the man who is responsible for taking my son away from me. I have no forgiveness. I want you to know who Conner was and how much he is missed. I want you to know you have forever destroyed the beautiful family I worked my entire life to create. I want you to look at me and know that your senseless lack of care has changed everything. I want you to see and feel the pain you have caused.
“He is gone and will never be home again. He will never be forgotten and no consequence, no sentence, no apology, no admission of guilt will ever be enough to fill the void that has been left.”
Meagan Hartley, sister of forward and captain Logan Schatz, 20, from Allan, Sask.
“On April 6, 2018, my 24th birthday, my baby brother Logan Schatz was taken from me. He was killed in this tragic accident, which I now will always be reminded of. Every time my birthday rolls around is going to be a horrible reminder that it’s one more year of my life he hasn’t been with me. One more year with conversations unable to be had, memories unable to be made, and his contagious smile and laugh unable to be seen or heard. This and so much more was all taken away from my family.”
Rhonda Clarke-Tobin, mother of goaltender Parker Tobin, 18, from Stony Plain, Alta.
“I miss my Parker so much … I have cried myself to sleep every night for the last nine months and am not sure that is ever going to end. You see it wasn’t just Parker’s life taken that day. It was his family’s as well. I live in fear every day when my husband and older son Kaiden leave the house. My anxiety of whether or not they will return is always there and always on high alert.”
Scott Thomas, father of forward Evan Thomas, 18, from Saskatoon.
“Hi Son, it’s Dad. Mom, Jo and I wanted to write a letter to you to read at the trial of the man who has pled guilty to killing you and your teammates and injuring your buddies. We have struggled for weeks to write something down and in the end we thought we could just write you a letter. God, we miss you. We miss you every waking moment of every day. We miss your smile. We miss your laugh. We miss everything about you.”
Allan Wack, father of defenceman Stephen Wack, 21, from St. Albert, Alta.
“Stephen was an incredible big brother to his one sibling Justin … When Stephen’s brother Justin was born, our family quickly learned that Justin was totally blind.
“During a family vacation to California when Stephen was three years old, he was riding in the back seat of the vehicle. The silence was broken when, after what turned out to be some quiet contemplation, Stephen piped up and said: “I would like to give Justin my eyes so he can see.”
Some of the 13 survivors or their family members also submitted victim impact statements. Here’s some of what they said:
Mark Dahlgren, father of Kaleb Dahlgren, who suffered serious injuries to his brain, spine and back
“We are unsure if he will ever play hockey again. His entire life revolved around hockey … This accident has certainly turned his life upside down.
“We are unsure what the future holds but are thankful Kaleb survived the accident and know he will overcome any long-term physical effects from the accident.”
Pam Gobeil, mother of Morgan Gobeil, who suffered a severe brain injury and remains in a Saskatoon hospital
“I am struggling. I don’t know if there are words to convey the impact that the events of April 6 have had on me. In 2017, after months of sickness, I was diagnosed with and subsequently treated for cancer. I thought nothing could be worse than losing my health. I was wrong. Watching your child suffer through the loss of his (health) is infinitely more painful. I would go back to that time in a heartbeat.”
Joanne Girard-Gomercic, mother of Matthieu Gomercic, who separated his shoulder, had a concussion
“My son remembers moments before the accident and then remembers waking up outside the bus in the middle of this disaster. Although he was in a lot of pain, he got up and looked around to see where he was. He was convinced that it was a nightmare because he could not believe that what he was seeing was real. Not only did he suffer physical pain but the emotional pain that followed was life-changing.”
Tanya LaBelle, whose son Xavier LaBelle was initially misidentified due to the extent of his injuries
“It was shortly after the vigil ended that we received the call that everyone now no longer expected, but had so desperately wanted to receive … our son Xavier was alive! Miraculously he survived the crash!
“There was unspeakable joy, and yet our grief also continued. We met with the beautiful family that had been keeping vigil by Xavier’s side, comforting and holding his hand until we arrived. We know they cared for him as a son, and we are forever grateful.”
Kevin Matechuk, father of Layne Matechuk, who suffered a severe brain injury
“This accident has totally changed our lives for the worse. It has put a huge strain on our lives, marriage, relationships.
“This tragedy is leaving such a physical scar. We cannot sleep at night. It is a struggle to try and smile or be happy. Layne is in therapy every day of the week. We are so busy trying to keep his spirits up that we have no time for ourselves, and depression seems to be eating us up.”
Roy and Laurel Patter, parents of Derek Patter, who suffered broken bones and bleeding outside his brain
“Although being parents that were blessed enough to have a survivor, the journey has not be an easy one. We feel the overwhelming grief for our fellow Broncos families that seems to consume our thoughts on a constant basis. We feel constant worry about our son. We see his struggles with such items as getting on the bus to travel to and from games. We see and feel his overwhelming frustration and sadness which in turn become overwhelming to us.”
Sydney Shumlanski, sister of Nick Shumlanski, who had minor injuries
“It’s been almost a year since the day that seemingly made our world stand still. My parents received a frantic phone call shortly after the Humboldt Broncos bus drove past our family home from my little brother Nick … My parents rushed to the scene as fast as possible and witnessed the aftermath of a terrible accident, which is something no person should have to see. My parents, Myles and Vivian, were one of the first sets of parents on scene and did what they could to help those who they could see as the survivors.
“Both my parents and Nick were witness to sights that no person should have to see in their lifetime.”
Tom Straschnitzki, whose son Ryan Straschnitzki was paralyzed
“All you had to do was stop … Why? Why didn’t you stop? You didn’t even slow down.”
Assistant coach Chris Beaudry, who wasn’t on the bus, but came upon the scene while driving his own car
“Your actions caused me to lose 11 sons and five friends. I have also lost my passion for teaching and coaching young men. I am unable to return to coaching at any level. I have lost part of myself. I’m not the same person I was the morning of April 6.”
The Canadian Press