‘Why didn’t you stop?’ Humboldt families hear details of deadly crash

‘Why didn’t you stop?’ Humboldt families hear details of deadly crash

The semi-truck driver left no brake marks

Grieving families sobbed Monday as they heard how a semi-truck driver barrelled through an oversized stop sign with a flashing red light and failed to avoid a high-speed crash with a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.

An agreed statement of facts about the collision that killed 16 people on the bus and injured 13 more was entered in a Saskatchewan court as part of a heart-wrenching first day of a sentencing hearing for the truck driver. Roughly half of 75 victim impact statements to be submitted by friends and family members were read out.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 30, of Calgary, sat next to his defence lawyers as court heard he was going between 86 and 96 km/h with a load of peat moss when he drove into a rural intersection north of Tisdale last April.

The sun wasn’t in his eyes. He wasn’t distracted by a cellphone. And he hadn’t been drinking or doing drugs. Weather and road conditions were also good, said Crown prosecutor Thomas Healey.

He left no brake marks.

“The driver of the semi-tractor unit failed to recognize that his vehicle was approaching an intersection and did not stop as required,” Healey said. ”The actions of Mr. Sidhu while operating the semi-tractor unit caused the collision.”

The driver of the Broncos bus, Glen Doerksen, 59, from Carrot River, Sask., hit the brakes and the bus skidded for about 24 metres, Healy added. It T-boned the truck at an impact of between 96 and 107 km/h.

The posted speed limit on both roads was 100 km/h.

Healey said there was no way Doerksen could have avoided the collision. The transport truck was fully in the intersection across all lanes of traffic. “The driver of the bus recognized the hazard as quickly as possible.”

Sidhu pleaded guilty earlier this month to 29 counts of dangerous driving. He was not injured in the crash.

Five days have been set aside for the sentencing hearing in a makeshift courtroom in Melfort, Sask. An event centre gymnasium is being used to accommodate about 100 family members, survivors and media.

RELATED: B.C. poet Koyczan pens poem for Humboldt

Doerksen was among those who died. His daughter, Melissa, told court that his eyes lit up when he got the chance to drive around hockey teams. He loved to watch their games and share stories.

His death meant he wasn’t there for his son’s wedding in the summer and he missed playing Santa at Christmas.

“We’re working towards finding understanding and forgiveness because that’s what my dad would have wanted,” she said.

Sidhu occasionally wiped his eyes with a handkerchief, but has so far said nothing to the court or in public. Seven people sat in a row behind him reserved for his family and supporters.

Marilyn Cross, whose 27-year-old son Mark — an assistant coach with the Broncos — was killed, told Sidhu that she admired his courage in pleading guilty and wished him well sorting out his future. “Make the world a better place, just like our son Mark did.”

RELATED: Humboldt Broncos emerge from tragedy

Bernadine Boulet of Lethbridge, Alta., cried as she said the death of her 21-year-old son, Logan, has left a constant ache in her chest.

Boulet noted her son wanted to become a teacher, like both his parents. Now she won’t get to help him set up his first classroom or watch him get married or play with his own children.

Toby Boulet said he doesn’t think the truck driver is an evil person.

“I need to tell Mr. Sidhu that I do not believe that you got out of bed on the morning of April 6 to cause a crash,” he said.

“I believe he feels tremendous remorse with all of the fiber of his being … I believe Mr. Sidhu wishes he could start April 6 all over again. I want the same. We all want the same.”

Robin Lukan told Sidhu that her 21-year-old son Conner was a handsome young man who lived for hockey. She last hugged and kissed him goodbye after watching him play in a game two days before the crash.

“I have no forgiveness,” she said, addressing Sidhu directly. “I want you to know you have forever destroyed the beautiful family I worked my entire life to create.”

Tom Straschnitzki, whose 19-year-old son Ryan was paralyzed in the crash, also had harsh words for Sidhu.

“All you had to do was stop,” he wrote in his victim impact statement that was read into court for him.

“Why? Why didn’t you stop? You didn’t even slow down.”

Chris Purdy and Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
School bus driver laments motorists who pass while red lights are flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Nearly 2000 BC Hydro customers in East Sooke lost power around 1 p.m. on Jan. 20. (BC Hydro)
UPDATE: Power restored to nearly 2000 East Sooke residents after blasting

Blasting caused power pole to move and faulted the circuit Wednesday

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Victoria police are seeking home surveillance video and witnesses following a prowling incident in Esquimalt Jan. 20. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prowler removes air conditioner, peers into person’s home

VicPD is seeking video footage, witnesses following Jan. 20 incident

The Victoria Fire Department extinguished a 15 foot tent fire in the 500-block of Ellice Street Jan. 19. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police investigating after 15-foot flames engulf tent

Flames damage nearby business in 500-block of Ellice Street

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Most Read