Photo credit/ TWITTER
Fourteen people were killed Friday when the bus they were in — carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team — collided with a semi-truck while traveling to a playoff game.
At least 14 others on the bus were injured, three of them critically, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix reported.
Most of those killed were likely the hockey players, who were between 16 and 21 years old — though the Royal Canadian Mounted Police [RCMP] would not specify how many of the fatalities were players.
“We can now confirm fourteen people have died as a result of this collision,” the RCMP said in a statement. “The other fourteen people were sent to hospital with a variety of injuries; three of these people have injuries that are critical in nature. We are not confirming the identity of the victims at this time, including whether the deceased are players or coaches. We will be working with our partner agencies to ensure families are notified as soon as possible and the appropriate supports are provided to families and others who are impacted by this extremely tragic incident.”
The father of player Derek Patter, who survived the crash, shared an image of his son and two other players in the hospital.
Derek Grayson and Nick bonding and healing in hospital pic.twitter.com/DzesIoT27B
— R J patter (@rjpatter) April 7, 2018
“We are just in utter disbelief and shock at the loss that’s fallen upon us,” Kevin Garinger, president of the Humboldt Broncos team, told CBC. He said he first learned of the accident through a phone call from a fan.
“Our organization will never be the same,” Garinger told the Saskatoon newspaper.
Police said overnight that the bus had been carrying 28 occupants, including the driver. It was unclear whether the truck driver was among the fatalities, Fox News reports.
Authorities said the crash occurred on Highway 35 in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, about 5 p.m. local time. The town is about 1,300 miles from San Francisco.
“It’s disbelief. It’s shock. The deepest grief that you can ever imagine,” a stunned Kevin Garinger said late Friday night, while driving home to Humboldt from Swift Current.
Garinger is the president of the Humboldt Broncos as well as the local school division’s director of education. He said he was in shock, and struggling to make sense of a terrible tragedy.
“Our organization will never be the same,” Garinger said of the hockey club he loves, one he said aspired to make not only good hockey players but also good young men as well.
“Our thoughts and prayers — everything we have in terms of our energy is directed toward trying to deal with, cope with the loss that’s occurred here,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he couldn’t imagine what the parents were going through, “and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, in the Humboldt community and beyond.”
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe tweeted that there were no words to describe the loss.
“Words can not describe the loss that we feel tonight. The news I have heard is difficult to comprehend.
Our province has always been one community. At our core, we are one small town, neighbors, friends and families.
To the City of Humboldt, the entire Broncos organization, and the families impacted by this tragedy, please know you are in Saskatchewan’s hearts.
From a grieving province, thank you to every one of the first responders and medical professionals for your courageous response under the most difficult circumstances imaginable.
Tonight, we all must pray for these families.”
The Nipawin Apostolic Church was serving as gathering place for families to receive more information as it became available, the RCMP said.
“We just opened our building here with food and drinks … they can come if they need somewhere to go or someone to talk to,” Nipawin Apostolic Church Pastor Jordan Gadsby told the Star Phoenix. “There’s not a lot of confirmed information at this point. Families are just waiting to hear from their kids.
“There’s a lot of tears.”
What a horrific tragedy.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved.