14 Dead In Canadian Junior Hockey Team Bus Crash
A bus carrying a Canadian junior hockey team crashed on the way to a game Friday, killing 14 people.
There were 28 people on the bus, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. The 14 people who survived were all sent to the hospital, including three people with injuries described as "critical."
The hockey team, the Humboldt Broncos, belongs to a league for players between the ages of 16 and 20. Canadian police haven't released the names or ages of anyone involved in the crash.
"It's disbelief, it's shock," the team's president, Kevin Garinger, told the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. "The deepest grief that you can ever imagine."
A semi-truck hit the team's bus near the city of Tisdale at 5 p.m. local time Friday, the RCMP says. The Broncos were traveling to Nipawin, some 125 miles away, for a playoff game that evening.
The crash prompted a wide showing of national grieving and support in Canada, where hockey is a symbol of national pride and many young people play on similar teams. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his support for Humboldt.
Saskatchewan's premier, Scott Moe, also offered support to the town and thanked first responders.
"Our province has always been one community," Moe wrote on Facebook. "At our core, we are one small town, neighbours, friends and families."
That is especially true in Humboldt, a town of less than 6,000 people in Canada's Great Plains region. Speaking to reporters, Mayor Rob Muench remembered a recent game when the team was down. "And they came back," he said. "So we're hoping to do that as a community as well."
Many of the town's residents gathered Friday night at Elgar Petersen Arena, where the Broncos play their home games. The Star-Phoenix reports that the sound of people asking for updates on the phone was occasionally punctuated by groups of people sobbing.
"We were a family," a former Broncos player, Daigon Elny, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "You come to the rink ... what's better than that? Now I don't know what goes on."
The RCMP hasn't released many details about the crash. It says an investigation is taking place. But the president of the Nipawin Hawks, who were scheduled to be the Broncos' opponent Friday, told the Star-Phoenix the truck had "t-boned" the bus. The father of one of the team's players described a crane lifting the bus after the wreck.
For many Canadians, this crash was reminiscent of another one involving youth hockey players in Saskatchewan. A 1986 crash outside of Swift Current killed four junior hockey players.