The last of roughly 90 victim impact statements were entered in a makeshift Saskatchewan courtroom on Wednesday as the sentencing hearing for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu entered a third day.
Sidhu, 30, pleaded guilty to 29 charges of dangerous driving in the April 6, 2018, Humboldt Broncos bus crash that left 16 people dead and 13 others injured.
Chris Beaudry, who was the assistant coach of the team, was last to speak.
He said the coroner asked him to help identify the dead, something he didn’t want to.
“Chris, you’re the only one left, you can do this,” he remembered being told.
Beaudry said small pieces of him were torn away as carried out the identifications.
“Your actions caused me to lose 11 sons and five friends,” he told Sidhu, before forgiving him.
“I can’t live with anger or resentments because they create an unhealthy life for me. I forgive you. Don’t let your life be wasted. Do as much good as you can.”
First to speak on Wednesday was Carol Brons, the mother of the team’s athletic therapist and only woman on the bus, Dayna Brons.
Brons said a co-worker and billet parent told her about the crash.
“Thankfully, we never got to the crash scene,” Brons said, recalling how she saw her daughter briefly at the hospital in Tisdale before she was transferred to Saskatoon.
She held up a biohazard bag containing a necklace she had given Danya for her birthday, but she hasn’t taken it out explaining it still has some of her daughter’s hair in it.
Brons said she is tormented by thoughts of her daughter’s last moments on the hockey team’s bus before it collided with Sidhu’s semi truck and was looking forward to one day walking her daughter down the aisle at her wedding.
“We did walk Dayna down the aisle … but we weren’t escorting a bride. We were escorting a casket,” Brons yelled through tears.
She said the coffin was closed for the funeral because her 24-year-old daughter looked nothing like the beautiful brown-eyed woman she was before the crash.
Lyle Brons said his daughter was hard-working, fun-loving and brought love, care and happiness to people around her.
He said Sidhu’s guilty plea and show of remorse have made things somewhat easier.
“I don’t know if I completely forgive Mr. Sidhu yet, but I know eventually I will,” he said. “I pray that everyone affected by this tragedy, including Mr. Sidhu, will somehow find peace and happiness in their lives.”
Tyler Beiber’s mother, Marilyn Hay, said the last time her son said he loved her was days before the crash on her birthday.
Hay had asked Tyler, the team’s play-by-play announcer, to ride the bus as she felt it was safer than driving himself to the games, which he usually did.
She had kind words for Sidhu while thanking him for pleading guilty and calling for changes to the trucking industry.
“Mr. Sidhu, you are Tyler’s age. I know he would feel sorry for you,” Hay said.
“I can’t image how I would feel as your mom. They have to be hurting too.”
WATCH BELOW: Coverage of Jaskirat Singh Sidhu’s sentencing hearing
While many families have said they forgive Sidhu, others felt the opposite.
“Mr. Sidhu, all of this chaos, pain and suffering would have been avoided if only you stopped,” said Tanya LaBelle, the mother of Xavier Labelle.
“We continue to feel like we are in the midst of chaos.”
The Labelles described the experience of first being told their son was killed in the crash, only to find out later he was alive while they were at a vigil honouring him and others who died in the crash.
They discreetly told other family members at the vigil before travelling to the Saskatoon hospital where their son Xavier had been mixed up with another player, Parker Tobin.
They said they grieved with the Tobins who first thought Xavier was their son, learning later Parker had actually died in the crash.
Xavier’s grandfather, Rick Armstrong, said Sidhu is responsible for sending him “to hell.”
“You are responsible for the injuries to Xavier, which can only be described as ‘massive.’”
“Mr. Sidhu, you are responsible for a senseless tragedy that should never, ever have happened … the impact will last a lifetime.”
Xavier suffered numerous injuries, including a brain injury and 16 fractures to his spine.
Andrea Joseph, the mother of Jaxon Joseph who was killed in the crash, called him a “monster” and wants a precedent-setting sentence.
Sidhu faces a maximum sentence of 14 years for each count of dangerous driving causing death and 10 years for dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Some families want to hear from Sidhu to know why he ran a stop sign.
An agreed statement of facts found Sidhu ran an oversized stop sign with a flashing red light.
The forensic report found there was no way for the driver of the bus, Glen Doerksen, to avoid the collision.
The report also found Sidhu had 70 violations of federal and provincial trucking regulations and inspection rules and would have been suspended for 72 hours if he had been stopped.
It’s expected Sidhu will get the chance to address the court.
He has yet to speak publicly about the crash although his lawyer has said he takes responsibility for what happened. Sidhu has also wiped away tears during the hearing.
Sentencing submissions will be made on Thursday morning.
Five days have been set aside for the hearing, taking place at the Kerry Vickar Centre to accommodate families, survivors, and media.