Messages of condolence from across the world pour in for Saskatchewan hockey team devastated by tragic collision.
The shockwaves of Friday night’s events are still reverberating across Saskatchewan, Canada, and the rest of the world. But it’s not the shock, or tears that keep circulating social media and coffee shops, its messages of hope, love, and courage that is drawing small town communities closer together.
At roughly 5:00 p.m. last Friday evening, a bus carrying 29 people collided with a semi-trailer loaded with peat moss on the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335, just 30 km north of Tisdale, SK. The bus was carrying members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, a radio announcer, and his protégée to a much-anticipated game 5 of a semifinal against the Nipawin Hawks.
Hair dyed yellow and spirits high, the busload thought of nothing but beating the Hawks that night. But when 7:00 p.m. came, the collision had claimed 15 casualties and leaving 14 injured, including the four that are in critical condition as of Monday evening.
Head Coach Darcy Haugan, 42; Mark Cross, 27, assistant coach; Logan Schatz, team captain, age 20; and team members Jaxon Joseph, 20; Adam Herold, 16; Parker Tobin, 18; Stephen Wack, 21; Logan Hunter, 18; Conner Lukan, 21; Glen Doerksen the bus driver and Tyler Bieber, 29 & 18-year-old Brody Hinz, Humboldt station 107.5 Bolt FM employees, were all confirmed dead on Monday.
Within hours of the collision, many social media platforms began vibrating with the news as family, friends, and perfect strangers felt the impact and tried to comprehend the tragedy. Saskatchewan’s Premier Scott Moe, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the United States’ President Donald Trump all offered condolences via Facebook and Twitter. Hashtags of #prayersforhumboldt and #humboldtstrong were also flooding social media.
Over the weekend, the incident, so enormous that the word “tragic” which barely scratches the surface, became a subject amongst the grieving communities all over Canada. This was exemplified in a Go Fund Me page reaching millions within 48 hours of its start. Prime Minister Trudeau and his hockey-loving son, Xavier, visited the hospitals where the injured hockey players were being treated. Several other hockey giants visited the surviving Broncos as well, giving support to the players and family still reeling from the ramifications of the weekend’s events.
Tweets from the weekend show Canada’s Prime Minister talking with Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki, “We may not agree on politics, but we sure do agree on support. Sure am proud our Prime Minister and his son showing up and chatting hockey. Thank you very much.” Hockey giants also set aside their personal preferences in the light of the tragedy as Edmonton Oilers’ head coach Todd McLellan; Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan; and Hockey Night in Canada personalities Ron Maclean and Don Cherry also visited the Broncos. Former NHLer, Sheldon Kennedy, himself a survivor of a horrific hockey bus crash in 1986, also came to visit the hockey team, along with his 1986 teammate Bob Wilkie.
On Saturday evening, NHL teams paid tribute to the Broncos during their games. Communities all over Saskatchewan, including Kindersley, held candlelight vigils Sunday evening. By Monday, flags were lowered to half-mast, and a book of condolences was set out in the Kindersley Town Office. But one of the biggest impacts across the world was started with a simple text between friends.
“Leaving it out on the porch tonight,” the text followed a photo of a hockey stick on a front porch. “The boys might need it… wherever they are.” TSN radio broadcaster Brian Munz tweeted the text from his friend and has since started a wildfire of remembrance, hope, and courage as households across the world set their sticks out and left either a porch light on or lit a candle beside the stick.
Retweets came from Australia, Florida, Arizona, the Canada House in the UK, and the Legislative building in Saskatchewan. One mother tweeted that her son placed his goalie helmet beside the stick outside—because he wanted to be sure that Parker Tobin, goalie for the Broncos, would have a helmet on hand.
In all, over 65 countries have been impacted by a small-town hockey team, whether it’s posting messages of encouragement or support on social media, or adding to the Go Fund Me Page, which currently stands at over $8.4 million. Others have written songs and poetry or drew artwork. People around the world are reaching out to the community of Humboldt and the families impacted by their unspeakable loss.
Sometimes it takes a tragedy to shake our world to the core, and help people realize what really matters. Tweets of “love your family” and “hugging my loved ones tightly” are appearing more and more often, and that’s how it should be. People helping people; communities banding together, and a little voice whispering “stay strong” — this is what makes Saskatchewan great.
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