Windsor

Windsor hockey players who survived deadly bus crash offer support for Humboldt Broncos

Stick together and don't be afraid to seek help. Those words, born out of tragedy, are part of a message of support for the Humboldt Broncos from Windsor hockey players who survived a deadly bus crash 13 years ago.

'We feel for them. We feel it already just hearing the news. It's heartbreaking,' said Tiffany Stroud

The Windsor Wildcats girls hockey team in 2005, that same year the team was in a crash that killed four people and injured 19 others. (Tiffany Stroud, bottom left.)

Stick together and don't be afraid to seek help.

Those words, born out of tragedy, are part of a message of support for the Humboldt Broncos from Windsor hockey players who survived a deadly bus crash 13 years ago.

Tiffany Stroud was 21 at the time of the collision that killed four people and injured her, along with 18 other members of the Windsor Wildcats hockey team. 

She vividly remembers the horrible day that changed her life.

When Stroud heard about the deadly crash near Tisdale, Sask. involving the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team that killed 15 people and injured 14 others, those memories came rushing back.

Members of the hockey community took to social media to send their condolences and offer support to the families of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. (Amanda Brochu)

"When stuff like this happens it feels like it wasn't that long ago. It brings back memories right away, the anxiety feelings come back." explained Stroud, who played forward for the Wildcats.

The womens hockey team booked a charter bus trip with Coach Canada to take them from Windsor to Rochester, New York for a hockey tournament. After the game, the team scheduled a ski trip to Swain Ski Hill.

On the way there, the bus veered off the road and hit an illegally parked tractor trailer on the shoulder of the highway.

The bus split in half, killing the team's coach, Rick Edwards, his son Brian, 13, and Cathy Roach, the mother of the team's goalie, Erin Roach. The driver of the truck, Ernest Zeiset, 42, of Pennsylvania, was also killed. 

The grief itself and the heartache it's still around. It will never go away.- Tiffany Stroud, crash survivor

"The grief itself and the heartache, it's still around," said Stroud. "It will never go away."

Stroud said her heart sank when she heard about the Broncos.

"We were really lucky," said Stroud. "We didn't lose any team members."

The Wildcats were involved in a deadly collision in Rochester, New York. (Tiffany Stroud)

While horrific, the collision Stroud was involved in brought the team closer together. For the last 13 years, the former teammates have met up on the anniversary of the crash to play hockey in remembrance of that day.

"I still hang out with a lot of the girls. We just became really close. I know that's going to be hard for [the Broncos] because not all of them are here anymore. I don't know how I would of dealt with that if some of my friends weren't here," said Stroud. 

The hockey player said the road to recovery both emotionally and psychologically will be difficult for the surviving members of the Broncos team. She added it has taken her a long time to heal.

Former Windsor Wildcats at their 2018 reunion game. Every year they play hockey on the anniversary of the crash. (Tiffany Stroud, third from the left)

Looking back, she wishes she sought out help sooner than she did. 

"I waited a long time to go to counselling. I would suggest they should do it and not wait. Stick together, be there for each other," said Stroud.

Since Friday's tragedy in Saskatchewan, the former Windsor Wildcats have been speaking as a group and decided to write a letter to the Broncos to offer them any help that they require to piece their lives back together. 

Stick together, be there for each other.- Tiffany Stroud, crash survivor

"We know what it's like to go through this. It takes a really long time find yourself because you feel lost and you don't know what to do," Stroud explained. 

The team intends to extend a helping hand to the surviving Bronco members, family and the community of Humboldt. Stroud said if they have any questions or simply need someone to speak to who can somewhat relate to what they may be going through, they're here.

"We definitely want to do something for them. We feel for them. We feel it already just hearing the news. It's heartbreaking."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Nakhavoly is a journalist with CBC Windsor News.

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