As It Happens

'Not again,' says man whose family died near the Humboldt Broncos crash site 20 years ago

Dylan Fiddler was six when he lost his mother, aunt, uncle and three young cousins in a crash at the same intersection where the deadly Humboldt Broncos crash occurred.

Despite losing 6 relatives in a crash, Dylan Fiddler says he 'wouldn't consider it a dangerous intersection'

Crosses are seen metres from the crash site that killed 15 people from the Humboldt Broncos team bus. The memorial honours a family that lost six of its members in a collision two decades ago. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

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There are six white crosses erected on the side of the road near the intersection where a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team collided with a semi-trailer on Friday, leaving 15 people dead.

They were put there in memory of a family who died in a 1997 crash at the same rural Saskatchewan intersection, known locally as Armley Corner.

Dylan Fiddler was just six years old when he lost his mother, aunt, uncle and three young cousins in the collision between Nipawin and Tisdale, Sask.

The pickup they were in failed to stop at the stop sign, crashed into a grain truck and burst into flames.

Fiddler, who now lives in Kingston, Ont., spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about both tragic crashes. Here is part of that conversation.

Dylan Fiddler at a hockey game. (Submitted by Dylan Fiddler)

How dangerous is [this intersection]?

For two tragic accidents to happen 20 years apart, you know, that's a long time.

I wouldn't consider it to be a dangerous intersection. It's tragic, definitely, what happened.

As long as you follow the rules of the road and you stop when you should be, I don't find it that dangerous.

When you learned that this bus had been hit, this collision with the truck, was at that very same intersection, what went through your mind?

My first thought was, "Oh no, not again."

It's definitely heart-wrenching, thinking about all these Humboldt Broncos and the staff and the bus driver and everybody involved.

My family was just one family. But with this recent one, there are 30-plus families affected, which is devastating, to say the least.

It seems that for a lot of people in the community, this accident on Friday has brought back memories of what happened to your family. It seems to have resonated for a long time, hasn't it?

Saskatchewan is obviously a small province with just over a million people.

If something happens, everybody knows ... and we all try to help out, no matter who the person is or where it happened.

For me and my family ... it has been 20 years and I think we've all moved on. We all just want to send our prayers and support to the Humboldt Broncos at this time.

Pictured is the intersection where the crash occurred. Originally, there was concern the trees may have obstructed a semi driver's ability to see a bus coming toward the intersection. According to a statement of facts, the trees would have not proved an obstruction if the semi driver had stopped at the stop sign. (CBC )

I understand after your mother and your family members were killed in that crash, you stayed in the region, you and your brother. You lived there with relatives and you crossed that intersection as a young person. Do you remember that?

My brother played hockey and I was part of most of the teams growing up, any place that I could be, whether it was water boy or being equipment manager.

So he traveled those roads as well, and his mindset is the same as mine. You don't like passing there any time. It brings up memories that you don't like. Nobody likes to think about that.

Every time I pass that intersection, I'll honk. And my fiancée who was with me in the summertime asked why I honked, and I mentioned to her that that is the location where my family has passed away and I honk in memory of them.

There are 24 members of the Humboldt Broncos, with members of the team ranging in age from 16 to 21. (Humboldt Broncos/Twitter)

You also must have memories of what it is to be on a bus traveling with hockey players with all the expectations of going to a game. What do you think it was like on that bus before the accident?

Going on the buses is almost like a road trip with your friends.

You get on the bus and you travel and you were either laughing, you were maybe watching a movie — a Don Cherry movie or Slapshot or some sort of movie — or you were playing cards.

Being on the bus really brings the bond together of a team, no matter what team it is or sport or anything. You form, like, a brotherhood.

I'm just speculating, but they were getting fairly close to the destination, and I'm pretty sure the coach would have stood up and said: "OK now everybody, we need to start getting in the zone."

And at that time, I bet you the guys were starting to get in the zone, get prepared for the game and start thinking about what's going to happen in the game.

But, again, that's just my speculation. I couldn't imagine being on that bus.

Two RCMP officers lay flowers in memory of the victims at the site of the crash. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

But you think about those last moments, that those young men and boys were having some fun, having some joy, filled with expectation, filled with energy — it's good to remember them that way, isn't it?

Exactly. And I think that's what we need to do is continue praying and send our support out there no matter where​ we are — Saskatchewan, Canada, North America, the world.

We just need to keep sending our support to them and think about the young gentlemen that they were.

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from CBC News. Interview produced by Katie Geleff. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.