A Saskatchewan judge has approved $50,000 interim payments to each survivor and family of those killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy.
The 29 payments represent roughly one tenth of the $15.1 million GoFundMe campaign in support of the people onboard the bus when it collided with a semi-truck on April 6 near Tisdale, Sask.
Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Neil Gabrielson authorized the $1.4 million sum on Wednesday.
Jeff Lee, a lawyer representing the Humboldt Broncos Memorial Fund, said the interim payments will be made in a matter of days.
“People who donated can take comfort that the funds are being allocated in accordance with the intentions of the individual who established the fund,” Lee said.
Gabrielson granted the order, which also established a five-member advisory committee to determine how the remaining 90 per cent of the fund will be divided.
“They will bring to bear their knowledge, their expertise in different disciplines and they will gather evidence and hear representations from families and make recommendations,” Lee said.
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The committee will provide their findings to the board of the memorial fund, which is tasked with returning a plan for court approval by mid-November.
Kevin Mellor, a lawyer representing the parents of late Bronco Adam Herold, argued money should not be distributed solely based on how much money people can prove they’ve spent in the aftermath.
In addition to expenditures, he suggested factors like pain and suffering be taken into consideration.
“I have a mother who can’t bury her son. I have a father who can’t get through the day without crying,” he said.
Tim Hodgson, who represents the family of the late Evan Thomas, agreed with Mellor’s approach to dividing the fund.
Evan’s father Scott Thomas summed up what the recommendation would be mean to families like his.
“There’s no amount of money that can bring our loved ones back,” Scott Thomas said.
Lawyers also successfully advocated to allow family members to address the advisory committee directly and receive the advisory committee’s report on a confidential basis.
The interim payments will also have no bearing on money families receive from the fund at a later date.
The advisory committee consists of the following people and three additional interviewers:
- Dennis Ball – a retired Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench judge;
- Hayley Wickenheiser – a four-time Olympic gold medallist;
- Mark Chipman – the executive chairman of the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club;
- Peter Spafford– a surgeon and the department head at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine; and
- Kevin Cameron – the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response.
Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver charged in connection with the crash, is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Aug. 21.