A memorial made of hockey sticks, crosses and Canadian flags is seen at the crash site of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team near Tisdale, Sask., Friday, August, 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

Story of the Year: Deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The Canadian Press annual survey of newsrooms across the country saw 53 out of 129 editors cast their votes for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

A deadly bus crash that united a hockey-mad country in grief and spurred people to leave sticks on porches from coast to coast has been selected as Canada’s News Story of the Year.

The Canadian Press annual survey of newsrooms across the country saw 53 out of 129 editors cast their votes for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in rural Saskatchewan as the most compelling story of 2018.

The legalization of recreational cannabis in October came a close second with 51 votes.

“Although cannabis is landmark legislation, legalization arrived mostly with a shrug,” wrote Murray Wood, provincial news director with Saskatchewan radio stations CJME and CKOM.

“No story affected Canadians in 2018 more than the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.”

The junior hockey team was on its way to a playoff game when its bus and a semi-truck collided at a crossroads on April 6. Sixteen people were killed. Another 13 were injured.

The crash made headlines around the world and struck a chord with hockey-loving Canadians, many of whom saw themselves and their children in the young players and their grieving families.

Some of the players were changing into suits and others were texting girlfriends as the Junior A team’s bus headed to Nipawin for a matchup against the Hawks. It was at an intersection just north of Tisdale where the bus and a truck carrying a load of peat moss collided.

Motorists who stopped to help, as well as some parents who were also on their way to the game, were met with a chaotic, gruesome scene. Those who survived were sent to nearby hospitals, the dead to a makeshift morgue.

Read more: Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor still has a long recovery ahead: family

Read more: Humboldt Broncos emerge from tragedy

Aerial pictures of the devastation are seared into the nation’s memory.

“Almost everyone in this country has climbed onto a bus with their peers or put a child on a bus for an out-of-town trip,” wrote Tim Switzer, managing editor of the Regina Leader-Post newspaper. “Many people could relate.”

Ten players along with the team’s coach, an assistant coach, trainer, radio play-by-play announcer, statistician and the bus driver were killed. Of the injured, two players were paralyzed and two received serious brain injuries.

“The aching void of unrealized potential, the memorial services, and the fundraisers captured the interest of Canadians — in an event basically unmatched since Terry Fox’s death in the middle of his Marathon of Hope almost 40 years ago,” said Bill McGuire, editorial page editor of Charlottetown’s Guardian newspaper.

Canadians and others around the world started leaving hockey sticks on their front porches to honour the team. Many sticks are still standing outside.

“You only had to walk through the streets of Toronto for weeks afterwards and see all these hockey sticks on the front steps of people’s homes to know that this horrific accident, so many thousands of kilometres away, had reached in and tugged on the hearts of every hockey-loving Canadian,” said Janet Hurley, a senior editor at the Toronto Star.

People from more than 80 countries donated $15 million to support those on the bus and their families, making it the second-highest GoFundMe fundraiser of the year next to the Time’s Up legal defence fund to fight sexual harassment and discrimination.

Lorne Motley, editor-in-chief of the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun, noted that the Humboldt story continues to make headlines about truck-driver training, the painstaking recovery of survivors and calls from players’ families for mandatory seatbelts on buses and trucks.

The story will continue to be in the news in the new year.

RCMP have charged the truck’s driver, Jaskirat Sidhu, with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily injury.

Sukhmander Singh, owner of Adesh Deol Trucking in Calgary, also faces eight charges relating to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations in the months before the crash.

Chris Purdy, 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

Bats are pictured snuggled in a bat box. (J. Saremba file)
Next week is International Bat Week

Monitoring for white-nose syndrome in B.C. will continue this winter

Environment Canada has issued a snow warning for the Kootenays on Friday. File photo
Environment Canada issues snow warning for Friday

Two-to-10 centimetres is expected to fall

Cranbrook defenceman Quaid Anderson has committed to the Cranbrook Bucks.
Hometown defenceman commits to the Cranbrook Bucks

Quaid Anderson, 19, joins the Bucks after spending the last two seasons in the KIJHL

BC ELECTION
B.C. political leaders reflect on rural health care as election looms

NDP leader John Horgan, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson talk rural health care priorities

What's happening at the Cranbrook Public Library
What’s happening at the Cranbrook Public Library

Mike Selby Exciting news! The Library is now open with extended hours… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Jack Vellutini, 100, is still making sweet music. Photo: Submitted
Music stirs memories as Trail serenader nears 101st birthday

Jack Vellutini gave his brass instruments to Trail up-and-comers so the legacy of music can live on

Most Read