Church bells in Humboldt, Saskatchewan will ring 29 times on Wednesday to mark the dark anniversary of a devastating bus crash.
The Humboldt Broncos hockey team was on its way to a playoff game on April 6, 2018, when the team bus crashed into a semi-truck that got in its way after the truck driver failed to stop at a stop sign on a highway north of Tisdale, Saskatchewan.
Thirteen people were injured and 16 died.
Humboldt Mayor Michael Behiel said there will be a low-key approach to this year’s anniversary at the request of families and because of COVID-19, but efforts will still be made to commemorate the day.
“We will continue to honor and commemorate the tragedy that has occurred and ensure that we recognize and respect the people who have honored and supported us so much during this dark time,” he said.
Behiel said church bells will ring along with the crash. The bus hit the semi around 4:50 p.m. CST.
A tribute will also be set up in the Elgar Peterson Arena for people to visit at their leisure.
It will include video tributes and slideshows broadcast on the jumbotron. The rink boards were also covered with quilts made for those affected by the bus crash.
Penny Lee, communications manager for the town of Humboldt, said it will be a place where people can “pay their respects and just have a quiet place to reflect.”
The Tribute Center will be open from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. CST. The video tributes will also be available on the City’s website and Facebook page.
A permanent tribute center and roadside memorial are still in the works after plans were announced last year on the third anniversary, according to Lee.
“Every day we play for them”
Scott Barney, head coach and general manager of the Broncos, said the anniversary was a difficult time for many people and that the team was still thinking of the players and staff involved in the accident, as well as their families. .
“Every day we play for them. When we come to the rink to practice, when we play our games, every time we step on the ice. We are playing for all the families, players and staff affected by this tragedy,” he said.
As painful as the anniversary may be, he said the team finds comfort in the community support they receive.
“Our community has been huge behind us here at Humboldt. Over the past two home games and throughout the season, we have one of the highest attendances in the SJHL and [fans] are still behind us,” he said.
“You just feel the community’s passion for the players, the staff and the organization.”