Follow live coverage of the hearing below
Emotional wounds are reopening and exposing the waves of trauma caused by last year’s fatal collision.
Through victim impact statements, family members and friends are sharing what they’ve endured since the Humboldt Broncos bus collided with Jaskirat Singh Sidhu’s tractor-trailer after he ran a stop sign.
For some, the event’s aftershocks led to failed relationships, anxiety, and fears of driving past the crash site. Others spoke on their emotional scars, to physical imparities with some speaking directly to Sidhu.
“All you had to do was stop,” Ryan Straschnitzki’s father, Tom, wrote in his statement.
“I am loath to call what happened on April 6 an accident,” Michelle Straschnitzki said in a statement read aloud in court. She wrote she is “riddled with high anxiety.”
Ryan, 19, survived the collision, but was paralyzed from the chest down.
Michelle thanked Sidhu for not putting the families through an emotional trial.
“I have empathy for Mr. Sidhu,” she wrote.
Robin Lukan, mother of Conner Lukan, said she does not forgive Sidhu.
“The hardest thing a mother can do is bury her child,” she said.
“I am here today to look at the man who is responsible for taking my son away from me,” she said. “I will never forgive this wrong. I never want to think about this day again, but I know that it will haunt my dreams for the rest of my life.”
Lukan’s death brought up previous trauma for family members as his uncle, who wore the same hockey number as him, died in a car crash at the same age.
The grief from the 21-year-old’s death also changed his billet family: Former Humboldt Broncos President Kevin Garinger and his fiancée.
Katherine Oviatt said the emotional toll of the crash lead to a breakdown in her relationship with Garinger. The two are no longer together. Last summer Garinger stepped down from his role.
Nick Shumlanski’s sister Sydney said the location of the crash plagues her family, as their home is only a quarter-mile from it. She said her parents were some of the first people on scene as their son phoned them shortly after the bus drove past their house.
“We relive the phone calls, the tears, the screams,” she said noting her brother can no longer travel on the bus to games out of town. Nick, 21, is now a varsity player for a maritime university.
Mark Cross's mother, Marilyn, was one of the last to speak during the day. She said she misses the small things: Preparing his favourite meal, baking him cookies and her son's "enthusiasm for life."
"Mark, if people know how much I missed you, they would wonder how I am still breathing," she said. "I am so angry... what I wouldn't do to trade my life for his."
Marilyn also addressed Sidhu, whose family members attended the hearing.
"Mr. Sidhu, I grieve for you as well. I grieve for the loss of your freedom and your future. I am so relieved that you have chosen to plead guilty and I admire your courage in choosing to do so," she said.
More to come…
“I want to hug my son.”
These are a few of the words from Logan Boulet’s mother, Bernadine, who entered the first impact victim statement at the emotionally charged sentencing hearing for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu.
Earlier this month, the driver who caused the fatal Humboldt Broncos crash in April 2018, pleaded guilty to all 29 charges he faced.
“I am constantly surrounded by memories of Logan,” Bernadine said adding the crash “has cheated Logan out of his future.”
Bernadine said her son was supposed to go to university, was a kind person, an adventurer and a good leader.
“My list of things I will not get to do with Logan will never end,” she said.
Logan died 19 hours after the crash on April 7. Bernadine said he inspired others by electing to donate his organs.
“Logan knew the world needed givers and not takers,” his father Toby said. “I have tried very hard not to let anger win.
“I have tried so hard to put on a brave face.”
The statement from Boulet’s parents is one of 75 to be entered into the court record. Due to the magnitude of attendees, the Kerry Vickar Centre will serve as the courtroom. The hearing is expected to take up to five days.
Prior to hearing from victims, court heard the agreed statement of facts.
“The actions of Mr. Sidhu, while driving the semi unit, caused the collision,” Crown prosecutor Thomas Healey said.
Sidhu’s loaded tractor-trailer did not stop at the intersection where both highways cross, Healey said. At the time of impact, Sidhu’s semi-truck was travelling between 86 km/h and 96 km/h.
“There was no way the driver of the bus, Glen Doerkson could have avoided the collision,” Healey said adding weather, sight lines, alcohol and drugs were not factors in the crash.
The final step in court proceedings against Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 30, is set to begin today as family members, friends and supporters of those affected by the Humboldt Broncos crash descend on Melfort.
Sidhu’s 10 a.m. sentencing hearing at the Kerry Vickar Centre will review the 29 convictions he pleaded guilty to earlier this month. Sixteen of those convictions are for dangerous driving causing death and 13 are for dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
In April 2018, Sidhu’s tractor-trailer collided with the team’s bus as it was en route to a hockey game in Nipawin. The collision killed 10 players, the team’s play-by-play announcer, athletic therapist, assistant coach, the bus driver, coach, and statistician.
Thirteen others were injured, some with trauma too severe to play hockey again.
As Judge Inez Cardinal considers the aggravating and mitigating factors in Sidhu’s case, she will hear victim impact statements from those affected by the crash. While a statement can be submitted privately to the judge, many are expected to speak at the hearing.
Crown prosecutor Thomas Healey said the sentencing process for this case could take up to five days.
The maximum penalty for each conviction of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm are 14 years and 10 years jail time, respectively.
Legal experts suggest Sidhu’s guilty plea and remorse will both be considered as mitigating factors in sentencing.
Due to the number of attendees, Cardinal and members of the Saskatchewan Provincial Court determined a courtroom was too small for the hearing, which is why proceedings will take place at the Kerry Vickar Centre.
You can hear a pin drop as reporters and cameramen get their only chances to grab pictures and videos of the courtroom in the Kerry Vickar Centre @northeastNOW_SK @princealbertnow pic.twitter.com/9shH27Lzqc
— Aaron Schulze (@SchulzePANow) January 28, 2019
To read more about the case in real-time, paNOW reporter Charlene Tebbutt will tweet from the courtroom.
- With files from Aaron Schulze and the Canadian Press
On Twitter: @battlefordsNOW
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