'Something's gotta be there': Sask. man installs 16 crosses at Broncos crash site

After the tragedy of April 6, some took to the rink or church. Rocky Salisbury went to his shop.

After April 6 tragedy, Rocky Salisbury went to work building crosses

The crosses were installed at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 on Saturday evening. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Rocky Salisbury is not a man of many words. But the actions of the quiet, Nipawin-area construction worker are rippling across the Saskatchewan region scarred by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

In the days after the tragedy, Salisbury took to his shop and built 16 white crosses to honour the fatal victims of the April 6 collision.

The crosses' maker, Rocky Salisbury, got the materials from his company, Riverbend Construction 92. (Rocky Salisbury)

On Saturday, just hours before a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League game attracted dozens of people to Nipawin, Salisbury and friends installed the markers by the corner of Highways 35 and 335.

Now the crosses have become a defining flag post for the solemn, wind-swept Broncos shrine that has cars stopping as often as every 10 minutes to pay their respects.

"I put 'em on stands. They're pretty sturdy. They won't blow over," said Salisbury of the crosses, each marked with the name of a dead team member.

"It was just something that I thought I should do," said Rocky Salisbury. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Salisbury didn't know anyone on the bus. "I was just something that I thought I should do," he said.

"Something's gotta be there, right? For when people drive by. They can actually see how many people lost their lives there."

Salisbury did know the Fiddlers, the family that was killed in 1997 at the same intersection when their pickup truck collided with a semi-trailer.

Faded, weathered crosses poked out of the snow Sunday to mark that site, just a short walk from the Broncos memorial flooded with flowers, teddy bears and hockey sticks.

The Broncos memorial is just a short walk away from the six weathered crosses that mark another collision that happened at the intersection in 1997. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Many people visited the Broncos site over the weekend. Premier Scott Moe stopped there on the way to Saturday night's Nipawin Hawks-Estevan Bruins playoff game.

So did hockey fan Jim Goodlad of Melfort.

"The little things you see: someone has put out a nice big black tarp [held down by 50-pound bags of asphalt repair mix] to put out all the memorial stuff on it, instead of being in the dirt," Goodlad said.

A black mat anchored by 50-pound bags of asphalt road repair mix was also installed at the site. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Josh Bondoc and Jordan Lepine of Nipawin Bible College came by on Sunday, on their way to Goodlad's city.

"There's a lot of families that are hurting right now," said Bondoc. "Everyone involved. And they can always use our thoughts and prayers."


Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

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