Relief, apprehension in Humboldt after semi driver charged for Broncos bus crash

For people in Humboldt, it’s too difficult to assign a single emotion to describe how they feel about police laying charges over the Broncos bus crash that changed their community forever.

‘In a collision like that, someone needs to be held responsible,’ says Broncos fan Deven Amendt

In Humboldt, reactions vary from relief to apprehension that the upcoming court proceedings could open painful wounds after hearing the driver of the semi in the Broncos crash was charged. (Alicia Bridges/CBC)

For people in Humboldt, it's too difficult to assign a single emotion to describe how they feel about police laying charges over the Broncos bus crash that changed their community forever.

"I guess it's such a shock right now too in the community, I guess we don't know how to respond to it,"  said Katy Sully who — like most people in Humboldt — has friends who were directly affected by the hockey team bus crash that killed 16 people and injured 13.  

"Me personally, I think it's a really touchy and tough subject to talk about.

"But I think hearing about it has really relieved a lot of people to hear more about the case and what is going on."

From relief to apprehension

Calgary truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 29, is facing 16 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and 13 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily injury.

He was arrested Friday — news that swept through Humboldt in Facebook messages and phone calls to friends.

Regardless of the outcome of the trial, Broncos fan Deven Amendt says it's still going to take years for the city to recover from the tragedy.

Family members of crash victims and survivors expressed some relief at the news on Friday.

In Humboldt, reactions vary from relief to hear more about the investigation, to apprehension that the upcoming court proceedings could open painful wounds that have barely started to heal.

Ray Sussums, a truck driver who has passed through the crash intersection himself, said he wasn't surprised at the charges.

Sussums lives in the nearby town of LeRoy but works in Humboldt.

He knows a lot of people affected by the crash, including co-workers, family and friends.

"I don't know if anybody is going to feel that good about the charges," he said.

"I think if, in the future when the trial is over with, if there is a trial, then that might placate some people but I don't think it'll ever solve anything."

Police have released only limited information about the circumstances of the crash and any evidence behind the charges won't be known until the accused appears in court.

Some residents have given thought to the feelings of the accused driver of the semi-trailer, including at least one who felt the charges were excessive.

But even if the road to healing remains long, some residents are pleased to hear that police have laid charges.

A bust of the city's namesake, Alexander von Humboldt, decorated with the Broncos colours. (Alicia Bridges/CBC)

'Someone needs to be held responsible'

Deven Amendt is a Broncos fan who had met some of the players from watching games at the rink and taking his daughter to get their autographs.

Amendt said he sat and cried when he heard the news about the crash. He has been waiting for police to lay charges.

"In a collision like that, someone needs to be held responsible," he said.

"Too many people died, too many people were injured and something needs to be done about it.

Too many people died, too many people were injured and something needs to be done about it.- Deven Amendt, Humboldt Broncos fan

"He'll have his day in court and whatever is decided there will work for me."

Although he wants to know more about the circumstances of the crash, he said he understands the police decision not to release that information until it's heard in court.

Regardless of the outcome, Amendt is very aware that healing from the tragedy can only come with time.

"It's going to take years upon years to recover from this," he said.

About the Author

Alicia Bridges

Alicia Bridges works for CBC Saskatoon. Email her at alicia.bridges@cbc.ca.