Sister reflects on life of brother, Humboldt Broncos head coach

“He was a leader, he was a true, true leader”

photo submitted

The loss of Darcy Haugan, coach of the Humboldt Broncos, was not just the loss to his sister Deborah Carpenter of Red Deer, but a loss to the whole community.

“You think about your own loss and then you realize it’s compounded 29 times over with every family that’s out there that’s impacted,” said Carpenter in a recent interview with the Express.

Haugan was one of now 16 on a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to their SJHL hockey playoff game April 6th that died when it collided with a semi-trailer.

Carpenter was at home with her family in Red Deer when she heard the news five and a half hours after the crash that her brother didn’t make it.

“It was seriously just like every other day. It flitted through my mind that there was another playoff game that night and Darcy’s team could face elimination and I was going, oh I hope they win,” said Carpenter about that horrible Friday night.

When she initially heard the news there’d been a bad accident, she told her children to come upstairs and pray for everyone, something her brother believed strongly in.

Carpenter said his love for God is what inspired him and developed him into the man he was.

She added that he was also very humble.

“He was just a great man. He was a leader, he was a true, true leader, and because he knew that, that came only from his relationship with God. He would never take credit for it,” she said.

Carpenter flew out to Saskatoon on Sunday to visit her parents, who live in Humboldt.

While enroute on the plane, Carpenter sat near Sheldon Kennedy, Peter Soberlak and Bob Wilkie, who were on the Swift Current Broncos bus that crashed in 1986, killing four players.

“I had the opportunity to make that plane trip with those men that listened to my stories about Darcy and shared with me their experiences. I was just very grateful for them for that time,” said Carpenter.

“You grow up in the hockey world and you kind of can tell who’s a hockey player,” she said with a laugh.

Growing up in Peace River, hockey was always a passion for Haugan.

“I graduated high school and went off into the great big world, and he was, at 14, also moving off into the great big world of hockey, playing junior hockey in Fort Saskatchewan and he played in St. Albert and Estevan.”

He later went off to university for a year and then played hockey, but Carpenter said it was a back injury that stopped him from pursuing his NHL dream.

He later went off to Briercrest College in Caronport, Saskatchewan for a degree in leadership.

“That dovetailed into becoming a hockey coach, and he just embraced that and it brought the best of both worlds together for him.”

Carpenter later moved to Red Deer when Haugan went back up to Peace River to coach the Junior B team, the Peace River Navigators.

Haugan was there for many years before getting the call to go up to the SJHL in 2015 to coach the Broncos.

Carpenter and Haugan’s father grew up in the Humboldt area and decided to retire there so they could be next to Haugan and his wife and two kids.

Even though Carpenter was a seven-hour drive away, Haugan always made the time to see her.

“We’d get to have supper or a quick coffee at the Timmys in Gasoline Alley.”

Carpenter now has those moments as memories she will keep with her.

After attending the recent vigil in Humboldt, one of the things that stuck out to Carpenter was amount of emotion heard after each name of the boys that didn’t make it was read.

“As each name was said you could hear the intake of air and these small gasps and cries that came up when they heard their child’s name or their family’s name,” she said.

The same went when her brother’s name was called.

“It just brought this involuntary response. It was a profound and heartbreaking experience just to be there.”

Carpenter said there’s a reason her brother profoundly impacted so many people.

She said he was a hero, not because of some great selfless act, but because he did countless things in small ways every single day.

“When I hear about what others are saying about him from his older years, I have to say that’s exactly the boy I knew, that’s the man I knew as my brother.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

Community engagement process launched to implement northern B.C. First Nation’s rights and title

NT Fish and Game host 700 F class match

The North Thompson Fish and Game Club hosted its first long range… Continue reading

District of Barriere Utilities Manager reports to council on Barriere wells

District of Barriere Utilities Manager Ian Crosson presented a verbal report during… Continue reading

FOI documents offer closer look at cause of Elephant Hill wildfire

Conditions were right for ignition from a cigarette

New sheep pens for BC Ag Expo

BC Ag Expo say they are looking forward to having their new… Continue reading

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Most Read