Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner finds doctors snooped in Humboldt Broncos patient records

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Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner has found eight people inappropriately gained access to electronic health records of 10 Humboldt Broncos team members involved in a bus crash last April.

Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured in the crash between the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi trailer at a rural Saskatchewan intersection.

« Due to the high-profile nature of the crash, eHealth Saskatchewan understood the risk of snooping, » said a report from information and privacy commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski.

The report said the health agency began monitoring the profiles of the patients — which include lab results, medication information and chronic diseases — three days after the crash.

The wreckage of a fatal crash outside of Tisdale, Sask., is seen in April. A privacy report says medical records of crash victims were inappropriately accessed by people in the health care system. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

« Between April 9, 2018, and May 15, 2018, eHealth detected eight users of the viewer, mostly physicians, accessed without apparent authority the profiles of 10 patients. »

The report shows eHealth reported the breaches to the privacy commissioner on July 5.

Privacy commissioner ‘disappointed’

Kruzeniski said he’s disappointed that the seven doctors and an office manager inappropriately looked at the records.

« This has been a major tragedy in our province and I’m disappointed that people got tempted, » he said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Monday. « Now that it’s happened, it’s my job to work with others through education and legislative change [to] make the system work. »

His report, which has been posted online, detailed the privacy breaches.

In one case, an employee of a medical clinic examined the health information of three people involved in the collision.

The office manager admitted she consulted the records because « her family members had heard one of the individuals had died and she wanted to verify the information; she thought another individual was a patient … [and] she wanted to verify a detail that was reported by the media about one of the individuals. »

The report said the employee’s access to eHealth was suspended and she was given further training, but she has since resigned from her job.

Another case involved a doctor at a Humboldt clinic who viewed the records of two people, including one who was a patient prior to the crash.

« Dr. D wanted to know what injuries the individual sustained, if the individual received care or if it was an instant fatality, » said the report. « For the other individual, it explained Dr. D was concerned. »

3 emergency care doctors among those reviewing patient records

Other cases included three doctors who provided emergency care at the Nipawin Hospital and who reviewed patient records of those they treated.

« They believed they were in the individuals’ ‘circle of care, »‘ said the report.

The privacy commissioner said the province’s Health Information Protection Act does not address circles of care so the doctors were no longer authorized to access the records.

Another case saw a medical resident view the information of three patients because she wanted to get closure on the cases, which is not an acceptable reason.

During the monitoring period, two other medical residents were found to have looked at the records of one of the people involved in the crash when the residents were reviewing the records of dozens of patients with a particular illness.

Monthly privacy audits recommended

In his report, Kruzeniski has made a number of recommendations to eHealth — including that it conduct regular monthly audits for the next three years of the physicians who inappropriately gained accessed to information.

Kruzeniski also recommended that the organization comply with a need-to-know principle rather than a circle-of-care concept and that it develop a solution to force users of the system to regularly review their training.

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Unprecedented outpouring of grief at sentencing for truck driver in Humboldt Broncos bus crash

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MELFORT—Chris Joseph has seen the seasons change from summer to fall and now, to frigid mid-winter, at a memorial set up for his son and 15 others killed at the intersection in April when a semitruck ran through a stop sign and collided with the Humboldt Broncos team bus.

Something about the stillness of winter adds to its solemnity.

At the rural Saskatchewan intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335, 16 green crosses stand emblazoned with the names of the people killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6, 2018.
At the rural Saskatchewan intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335, 16 green crosses stand emblazoned with the names of the people killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6, 2018.  (Claire Theobald / StarMetro Edmonton)

The cluster of crosses sits by the side of the rural Saskatchewan intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335, itself in the middle of four corners of open Canadian prairie, flat and featureless except for a small stand of trees.

Joseph, a former NHL player, has come to find a moment’s peace in the place where nine months earlier his son, Jaxon Joseph, was left lying lifeless in the snow. He points out the ways in which the memorial has grown each time he has visited: first came 16 simple white crosses, then 16 green hockey stick crosses were driven into the ground, and draped with Humboldt Broncos jerseys.

The green and yellow ribbons — the team’s colours — photographs and various trinkets, a cowboy hat, some plastic beaded necklaces, accumulated over time.

“The day you took my son Jaxon from me was the worst day of my life and will remain that way forever,” he said, recalling the horrors he and his family suffered when his son died in the crash.

“I never thought in my life I would be kissing my dead son’s eyelids, nose, cheeks and lips over and over again, as I knew it would be the last time I would feel my son’s skin under my lips. If I could have, I would have stayed with him, beside him until the moment his dead body couldn’t stand the warmth,” said Jaxon’s mother, Andrea Joseph, sobbing as she recalled desperately rubbing her son’s legs and holding him close, hoping her warmth would breathe new life into his still body.

Family and friends of the 16 people killed and 13 people injured spent three days recounting the trauma of the crash and the suffering they continue to endure because of truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu.

There were too many people to fit inside the local Melfort, Sask., courthouse, so 200 plastic chairs were set up in the Kerry Vickar Centre’s gymnasium to accommodate the weeklong hearing.

Both the Crown and defence involved in Sidhu’s sentencing said it was one of the most difficult and emotional hearings they had ever been a part of, with around 80 victim impact statements read aloud or filed privately with the court.

“Mr. Sidhu’s crime had wide-ranging and devastating consequences for the families and friends of everyone who was in the bus crash,” said Crown prosecutor Thomas Healey.

“My hockey stick remains outside of my door,” said defence lawyer Glen Luther.

Sidhu pleaded guilty to 16 charges of dangerous driving causing death and 13 charges of dangerous driving causing injury, taking full responsibility for causing the crash.

Rising from his seat to address the families Thursday, Sidhu turned to face them, heaving a heavy sigh before delivering an apology. “I cannot imagine what you are going through or what you have been through,” said Sidhu. “I have taken the most valuable things in your life.”

After he spoke, Sidhu sat back in his chair and cried.

But those who came to hear Sidhu offer an explanation left empty-handed.

“I can’t tell people what happened, he simply doesn’t know,” said defence lawyer Mark Brayford in his sentencing submissions.

Sidhu said he didn’t even know he had been in a crash until he crawled out the door of the overturned cab of his truck and heard the victims screaming.

According to the RCMP’s forensic collision reconstruction report, on April 6, the semi was hauling two trailers loaded with peat moss when it blew through a stop sign at the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335, near Armley, Sask., at around 5 p.m., just as the Humboldt Broncos team bus was approaching the intersection.

Sidhu drove past four signs and signals that should have warned him of the upcoming intersection that lined the highway nearly half a kilometre before the crash site.

“This wasn’t a rolling stop, this was more like a rocket,” said Healey.

The bus driver slammed on the brakes, skidding 24 metres, but it was too late. The bus hit the semi at nearly 100 km/h.

There was no way the bus could have avoided the crash.

The damage was catastrophic.

The bus was ripped into three pieces, the front third of the bus and the entire roof were torn from the twisted frame, the condition of the front of the bus described coldly as “nonsurvivable.”

Tanya LaBelle said images of the “dread-filled scene” replay vividly in their minds.

“The faces, the voices, the sounds, the vehicles, ambulances, helicopters,” Tanya, Xavier LaBelle’s mother, recalled through tears. “The panic, the agony, the horror.”

“Nothing can prepare a parent for the heart-wrenching carnage that was before me,” said his father, Paul LaBelle, who ran desperately down the highway toward the crash site before being stopped by an RCMP officer.

Families were redirected to local hospitals, hoping their child’s name would be on the list.

The mass of casualties overwhelmed the local hospital and funeral home.

In the confusion, the LaBelles were told their son hadn’t survived the crash while standing only 50 feet away from where their son lay screaming in anguish in a hospital bed.

When they were called to the funeral home with other families to identify their loved one among the dead, the LaBelles weren’t sure if it was grief preventing them from recognizing their son from the only bodies left unaccounted for.

Two days later, they would receive the call the other families had longed to hear — there had been a mistake, their son, Xavier was alive.

But any joy the LaBelles felt at learning their son was one of 13 survivors was tempered by the realization that another family, Parker Tobin’s — who had sat vigil at Xavier LaBelle’s bedside for two days believing he was their son — had inherited their loss.

Xavier LaBelle had survived the crash. Parker Tobin had not.

It was difficult for Parker Tobin’s father, Edward Tobin, to put his family’s loss into words.

“At times, the grief is overwhelming and you’re not sure how you are going to make it through the day,” he said. “The grief is often triggered by things you wouldn’t expect, like seeing young kids play at the local park. Those simple things that bring back his childhood memories. You smile for a moment as you remember a happier time, then collapse as you realize there will be no more memories.”

Humboldt Broncos assistant coach Chris Beaudry was called by the coroner to help identify the bodies, some disfigured beyond recognition.

Staff wouldn’t have time to stop working on the corpses while he viewed them, the coroner warned. Beaudry didn’t want to do it, but it was the only way he could help.

As he moved from gurney to gurney trying to recognize the faces of the young men he had once coached behind their injuries, flashes of recognition were chased with memories of who they were in life.

The sounds of bones being set, the zipping of body bags, skin being sewn, still haunt him.

“In my dreams, I would relive the funeral home scene over and over for months. I would wake up in cold sweats and couldn’t go back to sleep. The PTSD triggers were as bad as the nightmares,” Beaudry said.

Nine months later and they are still suffering.

“All of us families grieve every day, we will for the rest of our lives,” said Scott Thomas, father of Evan Thomas, who died in the crash.

The loved ones of those killed spoke of their unending grief, and family and friends of survivors spoke of their struggle to find a new normal as the futures they had planned now look drastically different. Dreams dashed, bodies broken, hope lost.

The rural Saskatchewan intersection where truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidu ran a stop sign and collided with the Humboldt Broncos team bus on April 6, 2018, as seen on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.
The rural Saskatchewan intersection where truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidu ran a stop sign and collided with the Humboldt Broncos team bus on April 6, 2018, as seen on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.  (Claire Theobald/StarMetro Edmonton)

At every brief intermission, those gathered in the gallery would offer each other support.

Warm hugs, dry tissues, handshakes and knowing smiles are the physical manifestations of the bond formed between these families who know each other’s pain all too well.

“The crash has forever tied us together,” said Bernadine Boulet, mother of Logan Boulet, 21, who died from his injuries after the collision.

After three days of heart-wrenching testimony, lawyers entered into their sentencing submissions trying to offer guidance to Justice Inez Cardinal in a case of dangerous driving unprecedented in its harm.

“We haven’t seen a case like this in Canada,” said Healey.

The maximum sentence available for Sidhu’s dangerous driving causing death charges is 14 years behind bars for each offence, and dangerous driving causing injury comes with a maximum sentence of 10 years.

While Sidhu pleaded guilty and has demonstrated genuine remorse, Healey argued that as a professional truck driver, Sidhu had been trained and should have been held to a higher standard of road safety.

“This wasn’t just an accident, this was a crime,” said Healey, recommending a sentence of 10 years in prison.

There were four signs leading up to the intersection that Sidhu, for reasons unknown, was completely oblivious to, Healey said. The intersection itself is marked with an oversized stop sign and a flashing light.

“How does someone miss all of those signs?” Healey said, emphasizing the egregiousness of Sidhu’s carelessness.

Sidhu’s defence argued that while the consequences of his actions were grave, they were a result of simple negligence and not deliberate recklessness, “barely over the line” between a tragic oversight and a criminal act, Luther said.

While they did not make their own suggestion for the length of a suitable sentence, Brayford said that many of those who described the pain and anguish caused to them by the crash also called for mercy in Sidhu’s sentencing.

“We’re not as simplistic as an eye for an eye,” said Brayford.

“I don’t hate you. When I look at you, I see a young man not much older than our son, Mark,” said Marilyn Cross, mother of Mark Cross, who did not survive the collision. “I grieve for the guilt you must carry for the rest of your days.”

Paul Jefferson, who was a billet father to both Parker Tobin, who died, and Tyler Smith, who survived, said his faith called him to forgive.

“His life should not be ruined by this mistake, that would make him the 30th victim of this tragedy,” he said.

Court has heard Jaskirat Singh Sidhu blew through a stop sign and into the path of the junior hockey team's bus in rural Saskatchewan last April.
Court has heard Jaskirat Singh Sidhu blew through a stop sign and into the path of the junior hockey team’s bus in rural Saskatchewan last April.  (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Other families called for a harsher punishment to deter unscrupulous truck drivers and transport companies from making the same mistakes.

“We need to fight for these boys, the 29 people who were on that bus. As a mom, when you can’t help your child, and you can’t protect them and hold them, the only way I can help is by fighting and sticking up for what is right. This country needs to crack down, we need to have stricter rules and stricter laws,” said Andrea Joseph, calling for Sidhu to serve the maximum sentence.

Judge Cardinal said it would take time for her to review all of the materials and victim impact statements before making her decision, and adjourned Sidhu’s sentencing until March 22.

Jennifer Quaid, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said the recommended sentence is “very harsh” and she suspects the actual sentence to be lower, in part because Sidhu pleaded guilty and expressed sincere remorse.

“I’m not sure that we can actually make him suffer more than he’s suffering now,” she said.

“He has done everything the criminal justice system wants an offender to do. He has recognized his responsibility, he has apologized, he has not tried to put up a fight.”

However, because there is no precedent for a case like this, Quaid said it is ultimately “anyone’s guess” what the judge will decide.

“We don’t have any template to follow for this particular kind of case, and I hope we never have another one.”

While conflicted over Sidhu’s jail term, those gathered agreed that no sentence would ever bring back that which has been lost.

What these families and survivors want more than anything is change.

Celeste Leray-Leicht, mother of deceased Jacob Leicht, spoke to media after the third day of proceedings holding Beaudry’s baby girl in her arms.

Her name is Lilly Brons Beaudry, named in honour of Dayna Brons, the Humboldt Broncos team trainer who died in the crash.

“I would like to give a message of hope and a message of change. I hope all the ministers of transportation across Canada are listening, and I hope you are talking,” she said, as Lilly tugged at the edge of her blanket.

“I hope you commit to Lilly and to everyone in Canada, across the nation, to make changes that make sense in every province and every territory,” said Leray-Leicht.

Lyle Brons, father of Dayna Brons, called for the trucking and charter bus industries to be federally regulated, and Leray-Leicht wanted to see training standards strengthened, anything to ensure no one else has to endure their suffering.

With files from Kevin Maimann

Claire Theobald is an Edmonton-based reporter who covers crime and the courts. Follow her on Twitter: @clairetheobald

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‘Something none of us will ever forget’: Humboldt Broncos parent meets with driver who caused son’s death

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Scott Thomas has waited 10 months to meet the man who caused the death of his son, Evan.

He got that chance Wednesday.

« It was the most exhilarating, exhausting, emotional 15 minutes of my life, » Thomas said in an interview with CBC News.

Semi truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu has pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing injury resulting from the Humboldt Broncos bus crash April 6.

His sentencing hearing is underway in a Melfort, Sask., gymnasium, held there to accommodate nearly 100 family and friends who gave victim impact statements over the first three days this week.

Broncos right-winger Evan Thomas was one of those killed. Scott Thomas and his wife gave an emotional statement in court Tuesday, speaking directly to Evan.

« Hi Son. It’s Dad. God, we miss you, » Thomas said. « Mom and I cry every day. We’re all just pretty messed up. »

Evan Thomas, 18, was among the 16 people killed in the crash. (Humboldt Broncos website)

Private meeting

Thomas also said that he’d like to forgive, but that’s something Sidhu will have to request in person. Thomas said he’d welcome the chance to meet Sidhu privately some day.

That day came sooner than expected. During the morning break Wednesday, Sidhu’s brother approached Thomas. He asked if Thomas would meet with Sidhu, and Thomas said yes.

Early in that afternoon, as soon as court adjourned for the day, Thomas walked into a small, private room off the gymnasium.

Sidhu, his brother and another older relative were waiting inside. They met for roughly 15 minutes.

Thomas told CBC News he preferred to not reveal the content of the conversation. He said they all took turns speaking, « but to be honest, it was more crying than anything. »

Thomas said he asked several specific questions. He said it ended with hugs.

« It’s something none of us will ever forget. It definitely was a good thing, » Thomas said.

He didn’t know if he’d ever get the chance to face Sidhu one on one, but « wasn’t surprised at all » by the offer Wednesday.

Sidhu pleaded guilty this month to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. (The Canadian Press)

« There’s a lot about this case that isn’t normal. »

Thomas said the focus is, rightly, on the 29 families whose loved ones were killed or injured, but everyone should also have some sympathy for Sidhu’s family.

« Families have been torn apart, » he said. « His family is devastated, too. »

With victim statements complete, lawyers are expected to deliver their final sentencing arguments Thursday. It’s unclear when Judge Inez Cardinal will issue her ruling.

A shrine to Evan is set up at the front of the room at the SaskTel Centre, below the stage on April 16, 2018. (Sarah Bridge/CBC)

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Friends, families gather for Day 2 of Humboldt Broncos crash sentencing hearing

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Relatives and loved ones of victims of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash are bracing for a second day at the sentencing hearing in Melfort, Sask., for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the semi-trailer driver who pleaded guilty in the 2018 tragedy.

The crash last April left 29 people either dead or injured. Earlier this month, Sidhu pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Seventy-five victim impact statements were submitted to the provincial court, with 65 scheduled to be read during the sentencing hearing.

On Monday, many friends and families of victims told the court how the crash has affected their lives. 

Some parents talked about how they would not be able to watch their children grow up, while others said they would never be able to forgive Sidhu for his role in the crash.

« I have no forgiveness, » said Robin Lukan, whose son Conner Lukan, 21, was among members of the hockey team who were killed. « I want you to know you have forever destroyed the family I worked to create — I want you to feel the pain you have caused …. I will never forgive this wrong. »

CBC reporter Jason Warick will be tweeting live from the sentencing hearing. On mobile? Click here.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Sidhu was found solely responsible for the crash.

A forensic collision report found Sidhu’s semi-trailer didn’t brake at the intersection of Highway 335 and 35 before the crash, despite the fact there were numerous signs with flashing lights to warn drivers.

Mark Dahlgren, the father of a young man injured in the Humboldt bus crash, talks about what it means for the families to have a chance to speak in court about the children they lost. 1:24

The report said Sidhu’s view of the intersection was not impeded by any environmental factors like trees near the road or sun in his eyes.

The Crown prosecutor would not comment on what sentence he is seeking for Sidhu.

The maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years in prison. A law professor at the University of Saskatchewan said dangerous driving causing death has typically resulted in jail terms of between two and five years.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled to run until Friday.

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Humboldt Broncos tragedy: What happened, according to the agreed statement of facts

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The Crown and Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver involved in the crash that killed several members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, have reached an agreed statement of facts at his sentencing hearing in Saskatchewan.

Sidhu has pleaded guilty to all 29 counts of dangerous driving laid against him in connection with the crash, which killed 16 people and injured 13 others.


READ MORE:
Humboldt Broncos team bus hit semi running stop sign

Here’s what happened that night on Friday, Apr. 6, 2018, according to the agreed statement of facts.

The intersection

Sidhu was travelling westbound on Highway 335 in a transport truck carrying two trailers loaded with peat moss. He was the only person in the vehicle, travelling at between 86-96 kilometres an hour.

SASK HOCKEY TEAM BUS CRASH SCENE

A bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team was travelling northbound on Highway 35 at approximately 96-107 kilometres an hour. There were 29 people aboard the bus.

WATCH BELOW: Safety report offers recommendations for intersection in Humboldt crash






Sidhu failed to heed a stop sign at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335, near Armley, Sask. His truck was completely blocking the intersection when the Broncos’ bus slammed into the lead trailer at just before 5 p.m.

Tire marks show the bus tried to stop, but the truck did not.

What the truck driver saw

Sidhu faced a stop sign at the intersection. The Broncos’ bus did not.

The stop sign itself was “oversized” and measured 1.2 metres across. It was attached to a post with a blinking red light immediately above it, 19 metres ahead of the intersection.

WATCH BELOW: Investigators recreate bus crash at intersection






There was nothing to obscure Sidhu’s view of the stop sign, according to the agreed statement of facts. The sun was not in his eyes, the road was not affected by any inclement weather and the intersection was clearly visible before the collision. Sidhu also passed signs indicating that an intersection with a stop sign was ahead.

“The semi-tractor unit did not stop prior to entering the intersection. No tire skid marks due to braking were left by the semi-tractor unit.”

The stop sign on highway 335 is seen at the intersection of highway 35 near Tisdale, Sask., Tuesday, April, 10, 2018.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A few trees southeast of the intersection would not have blocked Sidhu’s ability to see the approaching bus, if he had stopped to check for traffic at the intersection.

Sidhu was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, and was not distracted by a cellphone.

What the bus driver saw

Glen Doerksen, the Broncos’ bus driver, saw the transport truck blow through the stop sign and hit his brakes 24 metres before the intersection, but there was no way for him to evade it.

WATCH BELOW: Guilty plea spares Humboldt families from reliving grief through trial







“The actions of the driver of the bus did not contribute to the collision,” the agreed statement of facts said.

“The actions of Mr. Sidhu while operating the semi-tractor unit caused the collision.”

The collision

The bus struck the truck’s front trailer in a T-bone collision. The bus sustained massive damage, particularly at the front. The driver and 13 passengers were killed immediately. Two others died of their injuries in hospital.


READ MORE:
Broncos families prepare for sentencing hearing

Thirteen people on the bus were injured in the crash.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Excerpts from Humboldt Broncos crash statement of facts

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An agreed statement of facts detailing events leading to the Humboldt Broncos’ team bus crash has been obtained by CBC. This is a preliminary version, which has yet to be presented in court, in the sentencing of Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and injury.

Just before 5 p.m. on Friday, April 6, 2018, Sidhu was driving a transport truck, pulling two trailers filled with bags of peat moss, west on Highway 335. The Broncos’ team bus was travelling north on Highway 35 on its way to a playoff hockey game when the two vehicles crashed at the highways’ intersection.

Sixteen people — a majority members of the junior hockey team — died as a result of the crash, while 13 were injured.

No stopping, no distractions

According to the statement, Sidhu was travelling at a speed of 86 to 96 km/hr, west on Highway 335, at the point of impact. 

The road conditions and weather conditions were fine for safe driving, and the intersection was clearly visible to him. The trees at the corner of the intersection would not have stopped Sidhu from seeing the approaching bus if he had stopped at the stop sign, according to the statement.

« The relevant stop sign was an ‘oversized’ stop sign; it was 4 feet in diameter, » reads the statement.

The sign was affixed to a light standard that also had a red traffic light, that flashed once per second as a warning to drivers.

Pictured is the intersection where the crash occurred. Originally, there was concern the trees may have obstructed a semi driver’s ability to see a bus coming toward the intersection. According to a statement of facts, the trees would have not proved an obstruction if the semi driver had stopped at the stop sign. (CBC )

Collision unavoidable for bus driver

The bus driver, Glen Doerksen, applied the brakes to the bus and started to skid, about 24 metres before the point of impact. The bus was travelling at a speed of 96 to 107 km/h at the time of the crash.

The truck was completely in the intersection and spanning all lanes of Highway 35 when the bus hit the semi in a T-bone fashion, just forward of the wheels on the lead trailer.

« There was no way that Glen Doerksen, the bus driver, could have avoided the collision, » the statement said.

The statement of facts put the responsibility of the crash fully on Sidhu, saying Doerksen recognized the hazard early and tried to avoid the crash.

« The driver of the semi-tractor unit failed to recognize the hazard and took minimal or no action in an effort to avoid the collision, » it stated, noting that alcohol and drugs were not a factor, and that Sidhu was not believed to have been distracted by his cellphone at the time of the crash.

The Crown did submit that violations in Sidhu’s logbook and trip inspection reports constituted an aggravating factor. 

Sidhu has pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Sentencing for Sidhu is scheduled to begin Jan. 28 in Melfort, Sask.

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Humboldt Broncos coach announces he has ‘stepped away’ after less than 6 months

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Nathan Oystrick, who was hired as the Humboldt Broncos’ coach and general manager in July, has announced he is leaving the position.

Oystrick announced on Friday via a tweet that he had stepped away from the organization and would issue a statement at a later time.

« Despite the extreme stress and constant pressure of working with the organization, I gave them everything I possibly could and am proud of their performance, and mine, this season, » Oystrick wrote.

On April 6, 2018, a bus carrying the Broncos to a playoff game in Nipawin collided with a semi truck, killing 16 people and injuring another 13. Head coach Darcy Haugan was among those killed.

The Broncos have the fourth most points in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, with a 21-13-2-1 record.

Oystrick’s last game as coach was a 6-2 loss against the Melfort Mustangs on Dec. 15. The Broncos have had two wins in their last 10 games, going 2-7-0-1.

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Humboldt crash survivor has PTSD triggered by truck rear-ending his bus

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A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this past week as the bus carrying him home from physiotherapy was rear-ended by a truck.


READ MORE:
Humboldt Broncos GoFundMe 2nd only to #MeToo fundraiser

Straschnitzki, 19, was one of 13 survivors April 6 when a team bus was hit by a semi-trailer at an intersection north of Tisdale, Sask. Sixteen people died.

Straschnitzki, who was paralyzed from the chest down in the accident, has been attending physio four times a week in Calgary.

His mother says he was returning to his home in Airdrie when the accident occurred.

WATCH: Saskatchewan introduces mandatory semi driver training after Humboldt Broncos tragedy






“His transport bus was involved in a collision. In and of itself, would’ve been traumatic to anyone. To Ryan, and, ultimately Tom and I (on the other side of his SOS call), it was devastating,” his mother Michelle Straschnitzki wrote on Facebook.

“The kind of rip-your-heart-out-of-your-chest-while-you’re-still-breathing kind.”

The accident occurred on an off-ramp entering Airdrie, just north of Calgary, last Monday, she said.


READ MORE:
Humboldt Broncos visit bus crash memorial site

She said the impact from the vehicle was so jarring it threw him from his wheelchair, to the floor.

“More than that, it caused his severe PTSD to run to overtime. Transporting him back to April 6th. With this acute memory in his head, along with a million other thoughts, he called his Dad. Tom picked up on speaker phone,” Straschnitzki wrote.

“My mind headed into panic mode. In my defence, when your child is crying and apoplectic, with his mind on his teammates, and screaming `please live’ – Tom was the most helpful parent that night. And this wasn’t April 6th, this was November. My nightmare began again.”

WATCH: Safety report on intersection of Humboldt Broncos crash expected soon






Tom Straschnitzki says he was able to calm his son down and rushed to the accident scene to collect him. He said fortunately Ryan was none the worse for wear.

“All good,” he told The Canadian Press.

“That was a tougher call than April 6.”


READ MORE:
Court appearance for semi driver charged in Humboldt Broncos bus crash adjourned

Michelle Straschnitzki, who has been lobbying for seat belts on team buses, said she hopes this latest accident will serve as a warning to motorists who aren’t paying attention.

“I don’t ever want to hear another call from any of our kids, like that one. Please, people, pay attention. Drive to the conditions. Follow the signals, signs, and notices. There is no prize for getting there first,” she wrote.

“Never make another family go through this absolute HELL. Please.”

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RCMP charge man with setting up fraudulent Humboldt Broncos GoFundMe

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A 32-year-old man is facing several charges, including fraud, after he allegedly set up a fraudulent GoFundMe page in the aftermath of the Humboldt Broncos bus collision on April 6.

The RCMP said it was contacted by the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority about an alleged investor fraud operating under the name Aero Capital Inc.

While looking into Aero Capital Inc., police discovered a GoFundMe page titled #PrayForHumboldt that had received nearly $3,800 in donations from 35 donors in the U.S. and Canada.

The page has since been shutdown. 

RCMP made an arrest on Tuesday and the man is facing several charges, including fraud over $5,000, fraud under $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of crime. 

The alleged offences occurred between March 9, 2017 and June 20, 2018, police said in a news release.

The man appeared in provincial court on Wednesday and will be back in court Dec. 12.

Sixteen people died and another 13 were injured when the Humboldt Bronco’s team bus collided with a semi-trailer north of Tisdale. A legitimate GoFundMe page raised more than $15 million for the affected families.

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‘Rise up, boys’: Humboldt football team in championship game after bus crash claims team members

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A -20 degree windchill blasted the 45 teenage boys running drills on a snow-covered football field in Humboldt, Sask.

The undefeated Mohawks prepared for Saturday’s championship game knowing that a provincial title would be a storybook ending, a triumph in the wake of tragedy.

The players predicted their success months ago, when they dedicated the season to their football coach and two players killed or critically injured in the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus crash.

« We all held a piece of them in our hearts, and still do, » Mohawks head coach Cory Popoff said. 

« I think, we came together and said, ‘We’re going to play together and we’re going to go through the season together. We’re going to play for Tyler. We’re going to play for Brody. » 

Tyler Bieber, 29, was the Mohawks receivers coach for four years. He was on the Broncos’ bus as the junior hockey team’s play-by-play radio announcer. Former Mohawks player and equipment manager, Brody Hinz, 18, travelled with the hockey team as their statistician. Both were killed when the bus collided with a semi-trailer, leaving 16 dead and 13 injured, on April 6, 2018. 

Former quarterback Morgan Gobeil, 18, was a star athlete who also played with the junior hockey team. He remains in hospital recovering from a brain injury.

Tyler Bieber coached Mohawks quarterback Morgan Gobeil during the football season and interviewed him during the hockey season. (Melanie Gray)

« You gotta rise up, boys »

« I’ve learned to take nothing for granted, » Popoff said. « Everything we’ve been given, or earned, we value and we treasure and we thank people for it. It has changed me as a coach, it has changed our focus as a team. »

Popoff, who is also the principal at Humboldt Collegiate Institute, has been coaching for 20 years. He said he’s never seen a team band together quite like this one. The players would start practice early and stay late on their own to work on their conditioning.

The coaches emphasized the need to heal and take care of each other. Popoff said that translated to success on the field. 

Bieber’s favourite saying became a common refrain for the team. 

« You gotta rise up, boys. » 

A season of healing

Bieber’s mother Marilyn Hay attended the games and cheered her heart out, even as she wiped away tears.

Hay learned in the summer that some Mohawks players had gotten tattoos in honour of her son and invited them to her house. They shared stories, hugs and a promise to win the championship.

« I told them, ‘You have to win it for yourselves, too.’ But they were all hyped to win it for the boys, » said Hay. She now has her own tattoo of Bieber’s portrait and a microphone.

Some of Tyler Bieber’s former players have gotten tattoos in his honour. (Submitted by Marilyn Hay)

Despite her grief, Hay began to feel some football fever creep in. She and her other sons, Brandon and Brett, discovered that attending Mohawks games made them feel closer to Bieber. Hay can picture him pacing the sidelines in front of the players, clutching his play list, handing out high fives and pats on the back.

« I felt like I needed to be there. I felt like I needed that team to know part of Tyler was there, » Hay said. « I do truly feel him and Brody are looking from above and are with them. And I could feel Tyler with me. » 

Mohawks player Bray Berschiminsky shows Tyler Bieber’s mother an armband dedicated to his football coach, who was killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. (Submitted by Melanie Hay)

Her son’s love for the Mohawks started 15 years ago when he tried out for the team. The scrawny Grade 9 student realized he didn’t want to play on the field, but he did love the team and the game. The head coach, Shaun Gardiner, made him equipment manager and he travelled with the team for four years.

A decade later, when Bieber moved home to Humboldt, he joined the coaching staff alongside Gardiner. He would wake up at 5:30 a.m. for his morning radio gig at Bolt FM, grab an hour nap after work, then dash back out the door to coach basketball, football or flag football. He volunteered 22 hours a week on average.

« That’s what I’m missing. I want to see the jubilation in him, and all the excitement, » Hay said. « Tyler would be so pumped that [the Mohawks] went all this way. »

Focus on the moment

Brody Hinz, 18, never got a lot of playing time with the Mohawks but his commitment to the team was unrivalled. Head coach Cory Popoff says Hinz epitomizes what it means to be a Mohawk. (Melanie Gray)

Competing for a championship title in honour of those who died, in a community hungry for good news, could be a lot of pressure for a team of boys only 14 to 18 years old. Offensive coordinator Dave Rowe said he’s already told the boys that Saturday won’t be about the past.

It will be about the moment. 

« I feel like I don’t want to let those three fellas down, but I also have a pile of other kids that I don’t want to let down. I need to focus on my job, » Rowe said.

Bieber’s mother said the Mohawks have honoured their coach and former teammates, win or lose.

« I want them to know, they have [already] done it for the boys. They’ve gotten this far, and those boys would be damn proud of them. »

The Mohawks will host the Lumsden Devils in the provincial nine-man football final at Glen Hall Park in Humboldt on Saturday at 1 p.m. local time.

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