Humboldt bus crash: What we still don’t know about the deadly collision

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ABOVE: Aerial video shows destruction at scene of Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

It’s been nearly four days since a horrific crash claimed the lives of 15 people after a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos crashed into a semi-truck at a remote Saskatchewan intersection.

READ MORE: Here are the victims of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash

Schools in Humboldt, Sask., reopened Tuesday for the first time since the crash, but classes aren’t expected to resume. Instead, crisis support workers will be on site to provide students with help.

As community members plan funerals and memorials for the victims, RCMP are trying to piece together exactly what caused the crash.

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Here’s what we know so far

On April 6, the Broncos junior hockey team was travelling by bus to a playoff game in Nipawin — about a three-hour drive northeast of Saskatoon.

READ MORE: 15 dead in Humboldt Broncos bus crash

Twenty-nine players and staff were on the bus when it collided with a tractor-trailer at the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335. Fifteen people were killed, including several young players, their coach, a play-by-play radio announcer and the bus driver.

Images of the crash scene showed the bus on its side, its roof ripped off and its front end demolished. The trailer of the truck lay in a twisted pile of metal, with bags of its peat moss cargo spilled around it. The front of the truck was intact, lying on its side.

Officials have not confirmed if there were seat belts on the team’s bus, and it’s unclear how much they would have helped in this particular case.

12 people still in hospital, 4 in critical condition

Two of the 14 victims injured in the Friday crash have been released from the hospital. Twelve remain in hospital and four of the injured are still in critical condition, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said.

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READ MORE: Paralyzed from Saskatchewan bus crash, Ryan Straschnitzki plots return to ice

According to a report on updates on the status of Broncos’ players and staff will be provided after they have been able to talk with the families involved.

Nick Shumlanski was the first of the Broncos to be released from hospital and sent out a statement Sunday night thanking people for their support. He said he was told it was a miracle he was able to walk away from the accident with only minor injuries.

Identification mixup

On Tuesday, the coroner’s office mistook the body of Parker Tobin, 18, from Stony Plain, Alta., with that of defenceman Xavier Labelle, an 18-year-old from Saskatoon, Sask. Labelle is injured but alive, and Tobin is among the 15 people who died.

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Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice says the mixup happened partly because a lot of the players on the team look alike — they all dyed their hair blond for the playoffs, they’re close in age and have similar athletic builds.

Deadly intersection

This isn’t the first fatal crash at the intersection. In 1997, six family members were killed when their vehicle collided with a semi-truck. According to the RCMP, the half-ton pickup the family was in ran a stop sign when the semi hit them. Like in Friday’s crash, the driver of the semi also survived the collision.

READ MORE: Kingston man speaks to Humboldt crash intersection, where he lost his family 20 years ago

When the Broncos bus passed through the intersection northbound on Highway 35, it would have had the right of way. The semi-trailer would have had to stop at a stop sign with flashing lights before crossing the highway. But there is a stand of trees on the southeast corner of the intersection, limiting visibility of the approach on both roads.

Councillors in rural Saskatchewan are calling on the province to make changes to the intersection — such as installing rumble strips, removing the trees and creating better signage.

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Name of truck comapny

The trucking company involved in the bus crash is owned and operated by Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., a company based out of Calgary, Global News has learned.

Sukhmander Singh owns the small trucking company, according to a corporate record search.

While the driver has yet to named,  Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. was suspended indefinitely by the Alberta Transportation ministry pending an investigation, provincial Transport Minister Brian Mason confirmed to Global News.

The Alberta Transportation ministry will assist the Government of Saskatchewan in the investigation into the crash and will conduct its own investigation into the company, said Alberta Ministry of Transport press secretary John Archer.

RCMP said the driver of the tractor-trailer was unhurt and was given mental-health assistance after the collision but they have so far not commented on the cause of the collision or announced whether there would be any charges.

READ MORE: Thousands of Canadians share letter of support for unidentified truck driver after deadly Humboldt crash

Marc Beland, a spokesman with Premier Tech, confirmed to Global News that the truck involved in the crash had been hauling peat moss from the company’s facilities in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Beland said Premier Tech relies on contracting out its trucking but declined to identify company or driver involved.

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“We are focused on providing any kind of support to the community, family and the friends that are impacted by this tragedy,” Beland said. “We are doing all we can to support our team members that are also impacted by this.”

What we still don’t know

What caused the crash

It’s still not known what caused the crash and the RCMP said the investigation will take a long time given its complicated nature and the amount of evidence.

Weather, skid marks, visibility, speed and the mechanical condition of the vehicles are just a few of the factors that will eventually be analyzed.

Collision experts said it could be months before investigators determine a cause.

“Two objects come together and they depart at different angles, and you’re looking for any indication of braking, skid marks, gouge marks on the roadway, that kind of thing,” said retired RCMP collision analyst Rob Creasser.

*With files from the Canadian Press and Global News.