On Friday, April 6th, the Humboldt Broncos hockey team set out in a bus bound for a playoff game in another small Saskatchewan (Canada) community. It was a routine trip for them and their driver, who had been bussing junior hockey league teams around for many years.
However, this trip would be like no other. It would end in tragedy of a magnitude so high the whole country is still reeling over a week later. The bus collided with a fully loaded semi truck killing 16 of the 30 people on the bus and injuring everyone else. The exact cause of the accident has not been determined as yet, though they are looking at the fact the truck driver had only been on the job a few weeks.
To make matters worse, because most of the players were between the ages of 16 and twenty and had dyed their hair blonde, recognition was difficult. One family was mourning their son, presumed dead, while another sat in a vigil for their critically injured son. It turned out a couple of days later that the identities were switched. I know it seems hard to imagine that you wouldn’t recognize your own son; however, that was how badly they were hurt.
But tragedy always seems to bring some form of good and this was no exception.
One player, Logan Boulet, had filled out an organ donor card just two weeks before the accident when he turned 21. When he was declared brain-dead his parents were grieving but took heart in the fact that he would be helping others. Not only did Logan save six lives he inspired people across the Nation to fill out donor cards as well! They are calling this the “Logan Boulet effect”. This act was not out of character as he was always there for others, including his teammates.
Another player did survive; however, he was paralyzed from the chest down. When his father mentioned he may never play hockey again the son said, “that’s okay, I will learn sledge hockey and try out for the 2022 Olympic team in hopes of bringing the gold home!”
Not only did the communities the players were from rally around these families, the whole country did. Thursday, April 12th was declared Jersey day. People were encouraged to wear hockey jerseys of any kind to honour #HumboldtStrong. People were also putting sticks outside their doors as a sign of solidarity. Miley even got in on it. She didn’t have a hockey jersey; however, her Saskatchewan football hoodie did the trick. And she seemed proud wearing it!
We, as a Nation have come together in mourning, celebrating, and honoring these young men, coaches, the trainer, statistician, and bus driver. Afterall, hockey is Canada’s sport.
Having been born in Saskatchewan and gone to school with many people from the small towns and cities, I found this very hard to deal with at first. Once I got my bearings and started praying I could see things in a better light. It is still tragic, but God is there in everything.
My prayers have been filled with the survivors and families. I have prayed for peace for everyone involved including first responders, medical staff and anyone affected by this tragedy. This isn’t the first bus crash of its kind or any kind for that matter, and it certainly won’t be the last. But hopefully the Lord will show us blessings and the lessons He needs us to learn.
Canadian rocker, Tom Cochrane, wrote a song years ago called “Big League” about a young man who dreams of playing pro baseball but is killed in an accident. It is the father’s lament “My boy’s gonna play in the big league”. One of our sports channels had Cochrane rewrite the song for hockey and watching it brought tears to my eyes. All of these boys had dreams of playing in the “Big League” as well. We will never know how many of them would have made it. The video below features the new song.
Crash photo credit Johnathon Hayward/Canadian Press; Video credit TSN & Tom Cochrane