Sun, Apr 08, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Junior team involved in fatal crash

AFP, LOS ANGELES

A Canadian junior ice hockey team was involved in a fatal crash that saw the athletes’ bus collide with a semitrailer in rural Saskatchewan, police said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which is investigating the crash, said in a news release that it had confirmed “fatalities” and “a number of injuries” in the devastating incident on Friday.

The Nipawin Hawks said on Twitter that the team involved was the Humboldt Broncos, their scheduled opponents in a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game on Friday.

The crash is believed to have taken place on Saskatchewan Highway 35 about 28km north of Tisdale, Canada.

“This is much bigger than anyone can begin to imagine,” Broncos president Kevin Garinger told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “We are just in utter disbelief and shock at the loss that’s fallen upon us.”

The Broncos are comprised of 24 players, all from Canada, with the youngest aged 16 and the oldest 21.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sadness at the tragic incident involving such young athletes.

“I cannot imagine what these parents are going through, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, in the Humboldt community and beyond,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

The league is a feeder system for higher levels of hockey, with many graduating to play at US and Canadian colleges and major junior league level, while some go on to the National Hockey League.

Former NHL players, including defenseman Chris Chelios, goaltender Ron Hextall, forward Rod Brind’Amour and hall of fame goaltender Glenn Hall all played in the Saskatchewan league.

Friday’s fatal crash brought back memories of a single-vehicle bus crash in December 1986, also in Saskatchewan, that killed four members of the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos.

A memorial was placed on the side of the highway at the site of that crash, about 4km east of Swift Current, Canada.

The Swift Current Broncos expressed their condolences for Friday’s crash.

“Humboldt Broncos weighing heavy in our hearts and minds tonight,” the team said on Twitter.

Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, who survived when the Swift Current bus skidded off the highway in snowy conditions, also sent a message of support.

“Sending all my thoughts and prayers to those impacted with the @HumboltBroncos bus crash,” Kennedy said.

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