Cross Country Checkup

'Lives in our hands': Bus drivers reflect on their responsibilities after Humboldt Broncos crash

The deadly Humboldt Broncos accident has left bus drivers across the country thinking about the impact of their jobs

‘We don't always know if we're coming home alive,’ says one driver who shared his condolences

Brian Gold (left) was a bus driver with Moose Mountain Bus Lines in Regina. He drove the Humboldt Broncos home last April after their bus broke down. (submitted by Brian Gold)

by Samantha Lui

The fatal Humboldt Broncos accident has left bus drivers across the country thinking about the impact of their jobs.

On Friday evening, a bus crash involving the Saskatchewan junior hockey team killed 15 people and left 14 injured. Among the dead include several players and the bus's driver.

This week on Checkup, people from across the country called in to pay their condolences. Several of them were professional bus drivers who reflected on their responsibilities to transport passengers safely from one place to another.

Matthew Rodgers, charter bus driver from Calgary

Matthew Rodgers is a charter bus driver from Calgary. He says he often thinks about the possibility of something going wrong on the road. (submitted by Matthew Rodgers)

Matthew Rodgers says he was heartbroken when he heard about the crash.

Rodgers, who called Checkup from Calgary, is a motor coach bus driver who has driven many large groups on the job — among them, competitive hockey teams.

Rodgers says he loves driving people around, but admits that he often thinks about the possibility of something going wrong on the road.

"We don't always know if we're coming home alive or uninjured because we have to deal with mountainous snowy conditions and we've got people's lives behind us," he told Checkup host Duncan McCue.

Rodgers hopes the situation will give more compassion to bus drivers across the country as a result.

"We have their lives in our hands. We have their children's lives in our hands," he said.

"Please know that those of us that are professional bus drivers, this is hitting us very hard too because one of our colleagues didn't come home."

Matthew Rodgers, who called Checkup from Calgary, is a motor coach bus driver.He says he loves driving people around, but admits that he often thinks about the possibility of something going wrong on the road.

Dale Ibsen, truck driver in Edmonton

Dale Ibsen had just arrived home when he heard the news about the Broncos.

After taking a day off from his job as a truck driver, Ibsen said the accident was on his mind today as he headed back to work.

"I just started again an hour ago and I have to make a trip down very busy highways in Alberta here," he said on Checkup while on the road.

Two RCMP officers lay flowers in memory of the victims at the site of the crash of a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team and team officials. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

"It makes me just quake to think the responsibility of piloting a 75-foot-long rig with sometimes 65,000 kilograms of payload."

Realizing the amount of cargo he carries has made Ibsen think more carefully about the responsibility he has as a driver, and how he can work to make things safer for those on the road.

He added that he's been inspired by the amount of support going toward the community in Humboldt, and hopes people can be more cooperative with each other while on the road as a result.

"You know, all of the hockey world is one team. I would just encourage us to think the same way about driving that we are one group of people sharing a road together."

Brian Gold, former charter bus driver in Regina

Brian Gold and his son Michael. Gold says he often asks hockey players he's driving for tips to help his son improve in the sport. (submitted by Brian Gold)

Brian Gold, a former charter bus driver in Regina, had a chance run-in with the Humboldt Broncos last year.

Last April, the Broncos were travelling back home from a playoff game when their bus broke down.

Despite it being late in the evening, Gold volunteered to come to the rescue.

"This was Sunday night around 10:30 and I thought, 'Well I guess I could do it.' So I went and picked them up in one of our buses and took them back to Humboldt," Gold told Checkup.

"It was the first time I had driven an SJHL team, so I was privileged to do that."

A hockey dad himself, Gold says he often enjoyed driving hockey teams around because it gave him a chance to pick players' brains to help his son improve.

He says hearing the news on Friday night was tough.

"My son and I, our prayers go out to [the Humboldt Broncos]. God help them get through this very difficult time with their families."

Brian Gold had a chance encounter with the Humboldt Broncos last April when the team's bus broke down in Regina. Gold volunteered himself to drive them back home.

To the listen to the rest of Checkup's program on the Humboldt Bronco's crash, click here.

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