Saskatchewan

'Forever with that team': Man who was one of first to Humboldt Broncos scene gets memorial tattoo

One of the first people on the scene of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash has new ink in memory of the team.

Mark Antonichek says man he helped at scene is one of the survivors

Mark Antonichek now has a tattoo in memory of the Humboldt Broncos. He happened upon the scene of the crash, which killed 16 people, and jumped in to help. (Facebook/Vivid Ink Studio)

One of the first people on the scene of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash has new ink in memory of the team.

Moose Jaw's Mark Antonichek, an internet installer, and his business partner Kirk Reed came across the scene of the crash less than five minutes after it happened on April 6.

Antonichek said he attended to a young man, talking to him and keeping him stable until the emergency crews arrived.

I couldn't have lived with myself had I driven by.- Mark  Antonichek

"The images will be forever etched in my mind, but we're working past that and dealing with it," he told CBC. "It's nothing you can describe without bringing up ugly feelings."

While he has CPR and first aid training, Antonichek said he had never responded to an emergency before. Despite that, he said he and Reed immediately jumped out to help.

"I couldn't have lived with myself had I driven by," Antonichek said. "I would hope that if anything ever happened to me, or anyone I know, that someone would jump in and help."

Antonichek said the man he helped survived. He said he hopes to meet him again someday.
A makeshift memorial at the intersection of the fatal bus crash that has killed 16 people. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Supporting each other

Antonichek has been in close contact with Reed since the crash.

"I know what we both saw and I know that stuff like this can affect a person immediately or many years down the road," said Antonichek. "It's a roller-coaster of emotion."

Antonichek said that numerous family and friends have been keeping tabs on him. His fiance, Marilyn Shook, has also been by his side.

'That is the least I can do'

Shook was also there to hold Antonichek hand when he decided to get a tattoo — his first — last week. The artwork, designed by tattoo artist Crystal Begin, features a Humboldt Broncos logo and words, "With you on the scene and with you forever."

"I felt myself that the tattoo is a step toward healing. I deeply know the meaning of it and I will be forever with that team," he said.

Begin, owner of Vivid Ink Studio in Stoughton, Sask., said she was contacted by a good friend who was enquiring about a tattoo for Antonichek.

Mark Antonichek (centre) with his fiance Marilyn Shook (left) and tattoo artist Crystal Begin (right). (Facebook/Vivid Ink Studio)

She said that after hearing his story, she felt honoured to be able to do the piece. She refused to take payment and has offered complimentary tattoos to any other of the Humboldt first responders, victims and their family members.

"As a mother, it broke my heart that so many lives were lost, and many others were fighting for their lives," Begin said in an online message to CBC.

During his sitting, she said they didn't talk much about the event because she didn't want to open any fresh wounds.

"It would also have been very hard for both of us to do our part if we were overwhelmed with emotion and tears," she said.

She said she considers the tattoo, and any others she ends up doing in connection with the crash, her own way of giving back.

"If I can use my artwork to touch people's lives, I will," she said.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story stated complimentary tattoos were available to any other of the Humboldt first responders, victims and their friends and family members. In fact, complimentary tattoos are available to Humboldt first responders, victims and their family members.
    Apr 19, 2018 5:01 PM CT

About the Author

Alex Soloducha is a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan.