Humboldt Broncos families should get rest of $15M fund by Christmas
Judge agrees that money should be distributed almost equally
Millions of dollars raised online after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash should be handed out to families before Christmas, Justice Neil Gabrielson ruled Wednesday, clearing the way for the remainder of the $15 million fund to be distributed.
Scott Thomas, whose son Evan was one of 16 people killed, said the ruling is fair for everyone.
"We'd give any amount of money to have our son back. No question. So it's been an emotional roller coaster the last little while for sure," Thomas told reporters outside court.
"Our family, and I think I can speak for every family, is happy it's completed, for sure."
Gabrielson accepted a committee's recommendations that the money should be distributed almost equally. Families of those who died will get $475,000 each. Those injured and their families will get $425,000 each. That's on top of the $50,000 they've already received.
Families thank officials
All sides have said they will not be appealing. That means the money could be sent out "in a matter of days," said Jeffrey Lee, who represents the Humboldt Broncos Memorial Fund.
As the brief hearing ended Wednesday morning in Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon, families hugged and thanked court officials.
Thomas says the focus will be on getting through Christmas without his son … and through the one-year anniversary of the crash next April 6.
Thomas said the committee worked hard to make sure everyone's views were respected. Members met personally with each family who wanted.
"We spent almost an hour talking to that committee. There were some tears. You could tell how deeply affected they were to be in the position they had. They took it seriously."
Sixteen people died and 13 people were injured when the Broncos team bus collided with a semi-trailer as it travelled to a semi-final playoff game on April 6.
After the crash, an online fundraiser on the website GoFundMe brought in $15 million.
The committee's report noted the majority of families said they wanted the money to be divided equally 29 ways.
The committee recommended against that proposal, citing "a huge difference in emotional circumstances between most of the families who lost a loved one and most of the families who did not."
More than $500,000 of the money raised went toward payment processing. That, along with the interim payments, left approximately $13 million.
The money comes in addition to coverage from Saskatchewan Government Insurance, which provides funding for counselling, funeral expenses and payments to surviving spouses.
Those injured in the crash are eligible for up to $6.9 million in coverage for medical and rehabilitation expenses.
The driver of the semi-trailer, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, is facing 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily injury in connection to the crash. He has not entered a plea.
In Gabrielson's closing remarks, he paid tribute the victims and their families and thanked everyone for participating in the emotional process.
"Everyone has proven that together, we can face adversity and move on … Humboldt Strong," Gabrielson said.
With files from David Shield/CBC