RCMP say 14 people are dead and 14 people were injured Friday after a truck collided with a bus carrying a junior hockey team to a playoff game in northeastern Saskatchewan.
Police say there were 28 people including the driver on board the Humboldt Broncos bus when the crash occurred at around 5 p.m. on Highway 35 north of Tisdale.
“We can now confirm fourteen people have died as a result of this collision,” RCMP said in a release early Saturday.
“The other fourteen people were sent to hospital with a variety of injuries; three of these people have injuries that are critical in nature.”
No names were released and police would not say whether the dead include players or coaches. There was no mention of the truck driver.
The bus was carrying the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. It collided with a transport truck about 30 kilometres north of community of Tisdale.
The team was on the way to Nipawin for a playoff game when the crash happened.
Darren Opp, president of the Nipawin Hawks, said a semi T-boned the players’ bus.
“It’s a horrible accident, my God,” he said. “It’s very, very bad.”
Opp said the coaching staff and players from the Hawks are waiting to help.
“They are sitting in the church just waiting to hear any good news,” he said. “I’ve got 50 phone calls at least saying what do you want?
“There’s uncles and moms and dads waiting to hear whether their sons and nephews are OK.
“It’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible.”
We ask all members of the SaskHockey community to join us in saying a prayer for the the Humboldt Broncos team and their families.
— Saskatchewan Hockey (@sask_hockey) April 7, 2018
Pastor Jordan Gadsby at the Apostolic Church in Nipawin said more than a hundred people have gathered at the church — including parents and grandparents of the players who were on the bus.
“Lots of them are waiting for information,” he said. “Some of the families have gotten information and have gone to be with their kids. Some of them are waiting to hear if their kids are alive.”
The chairman of the board for the league was also awaiting more official details.
“We’re just waiting to hear,” said Rick Shultz. “We just know there has been an accident.
“It’s not very good.”
Kevin Henry, a coach who runs a hockey school in Prince Albert, said he knows players on the team.
“People are in such shock. All these young men and boys. We send our kids to play hockey. It is sort of every parent’s worst nightmare,” he said.
“This is I would think one of the darkest days in the history of Saskatchewan, especially because hockey is so ingrained in how we grow up here.”
STARS air ambulance has confirmed that they sent three helicopters to the scene.
The Western Hockey League Swift Current Broncos expressed their condolences.
“Humboldt Broncos weighing heavy in our hearts and minds tonight,” the team said on Twitter.
Four members of the Swift Current Broncos were killed in a bus crash in Saskatchewan in 1986.
Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, who was one of the players on the bus in 1986, also sent a message of support.
“Sending all my thoughts and prayers to those impacted with the HumboltBroncos bus crash.”
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said what he has been told about the collision is difficult to comprehend.
“To the City of Humboldt, the entire Broncos organization, and the families impacted by this tragedy, please know you are in Saskatchewan’s hearts,” Moe said in a statement.
“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 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is a Junior ‘A’ hockey league under Hockey Canada, which is part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. It’s open to North American-born players between the age of 16 and 20.
The Canadian Press