‘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.

Just Posted

Some of Golden’s top stories in a Mountain Minute

Your Mountain Minute for April 18

TSB makes two safety advisories in probe of fatal train derailment near Field

The train derailment killed three crew members on board

Fruitvale man identified in fatal zipline accident in Thailand

Spencer Donaldson, 25, was from Fruitvale, B.C., the city’s mayor has confirmed

Golden’s Easter Sunday Sunrise Service changes location

The Easter Sunday Sunrise Service has been an ongoing tradition in Golden… Continue reading

Greenstock combines almost 20 artists into one venue for one night of pure fun

Greenstock is back, and better than ever, bringing more than a dozen… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Man airlifted to hospital after apparent hunting incident in East Kootenay

The man was in stable condition when he was flown out of Fairmont Hot Springs to a Calgary hospital

Police probe eight fires set at B.C. elementary school

Nanaimo RCMP say fires appear to have been set intentionally

Most Read