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It’s hard to believe, but it’s been two full years since the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
The Junior A hockey team’s bus was travelling to a playoff game in Nipawin on Friday, April 6, 2018, when an inexperienced truck driver blew through a stop sign and into their path.
The devastating collision claimed the lives of 16 people aboard the Broncos bus and injured the other 13, some of which were serious, life-altering physical ailments.
As people across Canada started to enjoy their Friday nights and the start of another weekend, news of the crash spread, bringing the entire nation and beyond to a standstill.
In the days following the crash, condolences came in from around the world, as did donations to a record-setting GoFundMe to raise money for the victims’ families.
Tributes came in a variety of different forms, including the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks sporting “Broncos” on the back of their jerseys, rather than the players’ last names, during both teams’ final regular season game.
Hockey sticks were placed out on front porches, not just in Canada but all over the world.
Tom Cochrane appeared on TSN to perform an acoustic version of his song “Big League,” updating the lyrics to imply that the Broncos players were “riding to immortality.”
Funerals for the deceased were held throughout April in a variety of locations, but that certainly wasn’t the end of the Broncos’ story.
In June 2018, the crash survivors were honoured at the NHL awards in Las Vegas, where the team’s coach, Darcy Haugan, posthumously won the first ever Willie O’Ree Community Hero award.
Despite the unthinkable accident, the team announced in May that it would take steps to be ready for the 2018-19 SJHL season.
Somehow, against all odds, the team did put together a roster, led by crash survivors Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter, and they had an entire country of new fans behind them.
On Sept. 12, 2018, the team’s home opener was nationally televised by TSN, along with a special pre-game ceremony where the numbers of all players on the bus were formally retired.
Most surviving players were in attendance and to call it an emotional night would be an understatement; there wasn’t a dry eye across Canada.
The Broncos lost that home opener 2-1 to the Nipawin Hawks, the same team they were travelling to play on that fateful April night, but it was the start of a special comeback season for the team.
Humboldt posted a 35-19-3-1 record in the regular season and pushed the Estevan Bruins to game seven in the second round of the playoffs, dropping a heartbreaking deciding game in overtime.
The perseverance put on display by the players, the organization and the community of Humboldt was nothing short of incredible and there were certainly 16 proud souls watching down on the team all season long.
On March 4, 2019, the last of the 13 injured Broncos, Morgan Gobeil, was finally released from hospital, 333 days after the life-changing crash.
On Friday, March 22, 2019, the 30-year-old driver of the bus involved in the crash, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.
He'll likely be deported to India after serving his sentence.
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