Families of some of the 29 people killed or injured in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash shared heart-wrenching stories of pain and anguish during a sentencing hearing in a Melfort, Sask. courtroom Monday.
The parents of 21-year-old Logan Boulet, a player who died in the crash, were the first of 65 statements scheduled to be read. Seventy-five victim impact statements have been submitted in total.
“I’m extremely broken-hearted because my family and I will not get to continue our lives with Logan,” said Bernadine Boulet, Logan’s mother. She added that she was haunted by questions of “why” and “what if” after losing her son.
Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 30, pleaded guilty earlier this month to 29 counts of dangerous driving when the semi-truck he was driving collided with Broncos bus. He was not injured in the crash.
Boulet’s father, Toby, said although he believes Sidhu feels remorse his family has been destroyed by the accident.
“I believe that he wishes he could start April 6 all over again. We all do,” Toby said. “I just want to hold my boy.”
McKailyn Ives, Boulet’s girlfriend, said she is “haunted” by the crash and crash and now suffers from “severe depression.”
“I cry myself to sleep every night. My mind cannot process or remember simple things anymore because I have been suffering with severe depression,” she said. “I can never escape the nightmare I live daily.”
Mark Dahlgren, father of injured player Kaleb Dahlgren, described the high-level of emotion in the courtroom as victim impact statements are read.
“We are devastated for the families that lost their loved ones,” Dahlgren said outside the courthouse. “You know, we’re gutted when we hear the sadness and despair in their hearts, and listening to the victim impact statements, it’s gut-wrenching.”
Dahlgren said he couldn’t imagine the loss and pain felt by the families of those who died.
“For us, it was the worst day of my life and then, three hours later, it was the best day of my life when we found out our son was alive,” he said. “We felt that pain for three hours and it was indescribable, and I just can’t get my head around feeling that for a lifetime.”
Marilyn Cross, whose 27-year-old son Mark — an assistant coach with the team — was killed, told court of how she missed baking for her son, but told Sidhu that she admired his courage in pleading guilty.
“I grieve for the guilt that you must carry for the rest of your days,” she said. “Make the world a better place, just like our son Mark did.”
Truck didn’t stop at intersection
The Saskatchewan court also heard Monday that the semi-truck barrelled past an oversized stop sign at the rural intersection north of Tisdale.
An agreed statement of facts said Sidhu was going between 86 and 96 km/h when he drove through the stop sign.
“The driver of the semi-tractor unit failed to recognize that his vehicle was approaching an intersection and did not stop as required. The actions of Mr. Sidhu while operating the semi-tractor unit caused the collision,” Crown prosecutor Thomas Healey said.
The driver of the Broncos junior hockey team bus, Glen Doerksen, slammed on the breaks as the bus skidded for about 24 metres before T-boning the truck at an impact of between 96 and 107 km/h.
“The driver of the bus recognized the hazard as quickly as possible,” Healey told court.
The statement said RCMP found no evidence that Sidhu had used drugs or alcohol or that he was distracted by a cellphone. The weather and road conditions were good.
Healey described the physical injuries suffered by the survivors, which included traumatic brain injuries, broken vertebrae, damage to internal organs and a skull fracture. All requiring extensive surgeries and rehabilitation.
Others suffered mental health effects like PTSD, depression, and anxiety
“These injuries may never heal,” said Healey.
Tom Straschnitzki, whose 19-year-old son Ryan was paralyzed, had harsh words for Sidhu and questioned why he didn’t slow down.
“All you had to do was stop,” he wrote in his victim impact statement that was read into court. “Why? Why didn’t you stop? You didn’t even slow down.”
With files from the Canadian Press