Injured Humboldt Broncos and families of dead 'urgently' need advances from $15M GoFundMe pool
Overseers of fund want to give $50,000 each to 13 bus crash survivors and families of the 16 killed
Lawyers are trying to get surviving team members and families affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan an "urgently" needed early advance on their collective $15-million GoFundMe payout.
Some families need the money to cover the cost of funerals, travel and — in some cases — the loss of income or even jobs since the life-altering April 6 crash, according to an affidavit filed in court last Friday.
The monumentally successful GoFundMe campaign was launched by two Humboldt, Sask., friends in the immediate aftermath of the crash. One of them, Sylvie Kellington, wanted the money to go to the crash's 13 survivors along with the families of the 16 team members who died in the crash.
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Now the non-profit corporation that's shepherding the fund, Humboldt Broncos Memorial Fund Inc. (HBMFI), is asking Saskatchewan's Court of Queen's Bench to supervise the process of divvying up that money 29 ways.
The rules for the process are outlined in legislation created four years ago by the province.
HBMFI is also hoping all 29 groups can each receive a $50,000 advance as soon as possible.
"They urgently require access to funds in order to meet the financial obligations imposed upon them by the accident, in order to pay bills, in order to replace lost employment income and to be able to continue to care for their families," wrote Darrin Duell, the president of HBMFI, in the affidavit.
$14.6 million left over to divide
Not all of the money raised through the GoFundMe will end up with the team member and families.
GoFundMe has already deducted $482,712 from the $15.1 million to help cover payment processing fees. The company also held back a smaller amount to pay back people whose contributions to the campaign are ultimately contested.
The remaining $14.6 million has been invested in trust by law firm MLT Aikins LLP in two savings accounts pending the final payout to survivors and families.
Neither the law firm nor the bankers involved so far are charging for their services.
"The costs associated with a complex court application such as this would be significant," said Jeffrey M. Lee, the MLT Aikins lawyer handling the court application for HBMFI, via email.
5 people to advise on money split
HBMFI is also asking the court to approve its picks for a five-member advisory board that will help determine exactly how the money will be distributed to the 29 groups.
At least one family whose son was injured in the crash says the millions raised should be split evenly among the survivors and the families of those killed.
"I just say divide it, but that's just me," said Tom Straschnitzki, whose son Ryan was paralyzed from the chest down. "That's my opinion."
The five proposed candidates for the advisory board are:
- Dennis Ball, a retired Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench judge.
- Mark Chipman, chairman of the company that owns the Winnipeg Jets hockey team.
- Former Olympic hockey gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser.
- Dr. Peter Spafford of the University of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine.
- Kevin Cameron, executive director of the Canadian Centre For Threat Assessment And Trauma Response.
The Court of Queen's Bench would ultimately approve the final payout at a date yet to be determined.
No matter how the money is divided, the original intent of Kellington's GoFundMe will be honoured, said Kevin Garinger, the president of the Humboldt Broncos team.
The money raised "would go directly back to the families impacted by this tragedy," he said at a press conference Tuesday.
with files from Jennifer Quesnel