All of Canada mourned the victims of deadly Humboldt Broncos crash

The crash of a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos near Tisdale, Sask., in April that left 16 people dead was a tragedy that brought hockey fans and Canadians together in grief, but also in celebration of the nation's most unifying pastime.

April 6 collision killed 16 and injured 13 others

Hockey sticks, messages and other items were added to a memorial at the intersection of a fatal bus crash that killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team in April. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

The horrific crash of a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos in April that left 16 people dead was a tragedy that brought hockey fans and Canadians together in grief, but also in celebration of the nation's most unifying pastime. 

Terrible accident

On April 6, a bus carrying 29 members and staff of the Humboldt Broncos team collided with semi-trailer truck on a rural highway near Tisdale, Sask.

(Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The 2016-17 Humboldt, Sask., junior hockey team was en route to Nipawin, Sask., for a semifinal playoff game. 

(Humboldt Broncos/Twitter)

A vigil was held at the Elgar Petersen Arena in Humboldt, where mourners offered comfort and support.

(Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)


With the entire nation mourning alongside Humboldt, people across the country — and even overseas — put their hockey sticks outside their doors in honour of the players. The social media movement quickly went viral. 

(Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Makeshift memorials popped up at the intersection where the collision happened, and also at Elgar Petersen Arena, the Broncos' home rink.

(Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
(Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

The National Hockey League, many of whose players travelled those exact roads as junior players, also paid tribute. At a game the day following the crash, the Winnipeg Jets and the Chicago Blackhawks stood together at centre ice for a moment of silence while wearing Broncos on the back of their jerseys. 

(John Woods/Canadian Press)
(Jason Halstead/Getty Images)

Community continues to mourn

Soon the funerals began. Though the Humboldt community was directly impacted by the tragedy, it reached well beyond the town's borders. Many of the players came from other cities and towns, living with billet families in Humboldt. Funeral services took place throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta. 

(David Rossiter/Canadian Press)

Head coach and general manager Darcy Haugan was one of those killed. He is remembered by everyone in the community as not only a great coach, but also as a great person. 

(Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

At the 2018 NHL Awards, Haugan's widow, Christina, accepted the inaugural Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award on his behalf. The award was presented to her by some of the surviving members of the Broncos team her husband led. The award "recognizes an individual who — through the game of hockey — has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society."

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Healing and triumph in face of tragedy

As awful as the crash was, the survivors never wavered in their commitment to recover from the tragedy. Many, like Ryan Straschnitzki who is paralyzed from the waist down due to a spinal cord injury suffered in the crash, were left with a long road ahead.

(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)
(Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Despite his injury, Straschnitzki never lost his love for sport — switching his attention to para ice hockey along with Humboldt teammate Jacob Wassermann. 

Humboldt Broncos hockey player Jacob Wassermann, left, and teammate Ryan Straschnitzki compare sticks during a sled hockey scrimmage at the Edge Ice Arena in Littleton, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. Jacob Wassermann says there have been some unexpected side effects following months of physio after being paralyzed from the navel down in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joe Mahoney (Joe Mahoney/Canadian Press)

While the healing continued off the ice, the community gathered for a new season at the Humboldt Broncos home opener on Sept. 12. Returning players Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter were joined by their surviving former teammates. 

From left to right: Brayden Camrud, Derek Patter, Tyler Smith, Jacob Wassermann, Chris Beaudry, Graysen Cameron and Bryce Fiske (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
(Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Though the tragic loss of life will never be forgotten, the first game was cathartic for a community that had suffered so much throughout the six months prior. 

(Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)