Families of those killed in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash are sharing their thoughts the day after the truck driver responsible for the crash was granted day parole.
On Wednesday, the Parole Board of Canada granted Jaskirat Singh Sidhu day parole for six months. Sidhu will get full parole after those six months if he follows all conditions, including not contacting the families of the victims.
Sidhu was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm in the April 6, 2018, collision that killed 16 people and injured 13.
Russell Herold, father of 16-year-old Adam Herold who was killed in the crash, was upset by the parole board’s decision.
“I would never trust him to drive a car again to be honest with you,” Herold told Global News.
“He’s still in jail technically, but I guess my hope is the day he gets full parole, the immigration board is waiting to take him onto a plane and he’s gone, forever out of our eyes so (we) can begin to forget about him.”
Sidhu is awaiting a decision from the Immigration Board of Canada if he will be deported or not. Sidhu was a permanent resident at the time of the crash.
In Canada, a criminal conviction that carries a sentence of more than six months makes a permanent resident ineligible to stay in the country.
In June, Sidhu’s immigration lawyer Michael Greene said he hoped to have a chance to argue against his client’s possible deportation before the Federal Court of Canada.
“It’s just going to keep revolving if he stays in Canada. If he’s deported, he’ll be anonymous, you’ll never find him again over there and that’ll be the end of the story with him. He’s gone. And maybe it’ll be the end of the story for the rest of us,” Herold said.
The parole board panel grilled Sidhu for three hours during the Wednesday hearing, asking him about inconsistencies in some of his initial statements, including telling his boss he was distracted by a flapping tarp and then explaining to RCMP that he had the sun in his eyes.
Other families are also reacting to the parole board’s decision.
Scott Thomas, father of Evan Thomas, said his family was aware of the decision.
“We have said right from the day Mr. Sidhu entered his guilty plea in Melfort that we did not care if his sentence was one day, 10 years or the rest of his life. We still feel that way,” Thomas said.
“Our family has moved forward in our efforts to remember and celebrate our son and brother Evan’s life and legacy. The situation surrounding Mr. Sidhu’s penalty and release is no longer an issue that our family concerns itself with.”
“We would like to extend our love to the Broncos family and wish them the best in their grief journey.”
Toby Boulet, father of Logan Boulet, said their family did not want Sidhu to be granted day or full parole and are disappointed in the ruling.
“We have chosen to focus our energy on passionately helping organ transplant groups across Canada and the U.S. to move the needle to increase organ and tissue donor registration numbers, research and … just helping others as best we can,” Boulet said.
“We have no feelings for Mr. Sidhu and what he wants and feels he deserves. We want our Logan back, but we cannot have this. We will continue to focus our energy on things we can control and not on things that we cannot.”
Global News also reached out to other families who either didn’t respond or declined to comment.
Global News reached out to Sidhu’s lawyer who did not respond before publication.
— with files from The Canadian Press