A judge called for an end to “carnage on our highways” as she sent a truck driver to prison on Friday for causing a fatal crash involving a Saskatchewan junior hockey team’s bus.
Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years for causing the collision last April that killed 16 people and injured 13 on the Humboldt Broncos bus.
Sidhu, an inexperienced truck driver, blew through a stop sign and into the path of the bus at a rural intersection.
“It should not take an event such as this to make people realize that operating a motor vehicle requires the full attention of the driver,” Cardinal said in her decision.
She said sentences for dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm must send a strong message of deterrence to everyone operating large vehicles.
Crown prosecutor Thomas Healey said outside court in Melfort, Sask., that he believes the prison sentence does that.
“That message is that criminal driving will not be tolerated,” he said.
Toby Boulet, whose son Logan was killed in the crash, said that although Sidhu apologized, he needed to be held to a higher standard as a professional driver.
“You need to follow those standards,” he said. ”In this case remorse is one thing … but the bottom line is he was negligent.”
Many of the parents affected, including Chris Joseph, have been pushing for changes to the trucking industry. The former NHL player lost his son in the crash.
“We’re not getting Jaxon back, so we want to create change,” he said. “(Cardinal) was very firm and she did speak about how her sentencing today is going to help promote some change, so for that we’re grateful.”
Some differences have already been made.
Saskatchewan brought in mandatory training for commercial truck drivers last week and Alberta made the move March 1.
Canada’s transportation ministers have agreed to develop an entry-level national training standard for semi-truck drivers. Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau has said it will be in place by next January.
The Saskatchewan government announced in its budget this week that it plans to spend $65 million over the next five years to improve safety at intersections with new rumble strips, lighting and road signs.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press