Former Timmins dad reflects on Humbdolt tragedy
The recent Humboldt Broncos tragedy is bringing back memories for a man who used to live in Timmins.
Earlier this month, a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team crashed, killing 15 people. The trainer on the bus died a few days later.
For Bob Jones, who now lives in Caledonia, the crash is bringing up memories of when he lost his son in 1998.
His 12-year-old son Geoffrey died in a car crash, along with two other 11 year old players and two adults, while travelling to play hockey in Rouyn Noranda.
Jones says his son decided to go with his friends Ali Eren and Sylvain Bradette, as well as Sylvain's parents Alain and Lise.
Jones was travelling in his own vehicle and left about half an hour after his son took off.
"When I got to the Frederick House Bridge there was a long, long lineup of cars [and] trucks. It was obvious there was an accident," he said.
Jones spoke with an OPP officer who told him to take a detour. He then asked the officer if there were any hockey players involved in the crash but wasn't told any details.
"On the detour I was pretty convinced Jeffrey and the three boys were in the accident," he said. "I had a feeling."
'Such a bad accident'
Jones had planned to stay with friends in Kirkland Lake and was watching the news with them later that day. He saw a report on the crash and recognized the vehicle involved. He called his wife to see if police had contacted her, which they hadn't yet.
"The reason why they hadn't identified, I mean, it was such a bad accident," he said.
Around 1 a.m., the family received confirmation that Jeffrey had died in the crash.
Jones says for the funerals, people from Timmins and Rouyn Noranda showed up to show support.
"We were in a church, it held about 400 people," he said.
"It was packed. People were outside."
Can this be avoided?
Tragedies involving sports teams have happened before in Canada. In 2008, seven high school basketball players and the wife of a coach died in New Brunswick while travelling.
As for how to avoid future tragedies like this, Jones says travelling is always a risk whether you're in a vehicle like his son was, or on a bus with a team.
"Accidents are part of this life," he said.
"I don't know what you can do about it."