'Something none of us will ever forget': Humboldt Broncos parent meets with driver who caused son's death
'The most exhilarating, exhausting, emotional 15 minutes of my life,' bereaved dad says
Scott Thomas has waited 10 months to meet the man who caused the death of his son, Evan.
He got that chance Wednesday.
"It was the most exhilarating, exhausting, emotional 15 minutes of my life," Thomas said in an interview with CBC News.
Semi truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu has pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing injury resulting from the Humboldt Broncos bus crash April 6.
His sentencing hearing is underway in a Melfort, Sask., gymnasium, held there to accommodate nearly 100 family and friends who gave victim impact statements over the first three days this week.
Broncos right-winger Evan Thomas was one of those killed. Scott Thomas and his wife gave an emotional statement in court Tuesday, speaking directly to Evan.
"Hi Son. It's Dad. God, we miss you," Thomas said. "Mom and I cry every day. We're all just pretty messed up."
Thomas also said that he'd like to forgive, but that's something Sidhu will have to request in person. Thomas said he'd welcome the chance to meet Sidhu privately some day.
That day came sooner than expected. During the morning break Wednesday, Sidhu's brother approached Thomas. He asked if Thomas would meet with Sidhu, and Thomas said yes.
Early in that afternoon, as soon as court adjourned for the day, Thomas walked into a small, private room off the gymnasium.
Sidhu, his brother and another older relative were waiting inside. They met for roughly 15 minutes.
Thomas told CBC News he preferred to not reveal the content of the conversation. He said they all took turns speaking, "but to be honest, it was more crying than anything."
Thomas said he asked several specific questions. He said it ended with hugs.
"It's something none of us will ever forget. It definitely was a good thing," Thomas said.
He didn't know if he'd ever get the chance to face Sidhu one on one, but "wasn't surprised at all" by the offer Wednesday.
"There's a lot about this case that isn't normal."
Thomas said the focus is, rightly, on the 29 families whose loved ones were killed or injured, but everyone should also have some sympathy for Sidhu's family.
"Families have been torn apart," he said. "His family is devastated, too."
With victim statements complete, lawyers are expected to deliver their final sentencing arguments Thursday. It's unclear when Judge Inez Cardinal will issue her ruling.
With files from Susan Ormiston