MELFORT, Sask. – It’s a week of grief and tears at the sentencing hearing for the driver responsible for last year’s Humboldt Broncos crash.
Sixteen people were killed and 13 others on the bus were killed when a semi-truck collided with the hockey team’s bus.
Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 30, pleaded guilty earlier this month to all 29 counts of dangerous driving laid against him. He had been hauling a load of peat moss when his rig and the Broncos bus collided.
Sidhu faces a maximum sentence of 14 years for each charge of dangerous driving causing death and 10 years for dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Victim impact statements were read during the first of five days of the sentencing hearing taking place in an event centre in Melfort, Sask., to accommodate all the families, survivors, and media.
“I cannot touch him, hold him, comfort his wounds”
Toby Boulet fought back tears as he gave his victim impact statement about his son, Logan, who died in the crash.
“Is there an end to the constant emptiness along with the pain and suffering that the tragedy of Logan’s passing along with 15 other beautiful souls plus another 13 of the Bronco Family left with physical and emotional scars for life?”
The family of Logan Boulet presenting the picture of a born leader, aspiring teacher who adored his family and made an enormous impact on six lives by being a registered organ donor.
— Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) January 28, 2019
He said he doesn’t think Sidhu is an inherently bad person or had any malicious intent the day of the crash.
“I do not believe that he got out of bed on the morning of April 6th, 2018 to cause a crash that would ultimately kill our only son, Logan. I do not believe that Mr. Sidhu is an inherently evil person that feels no remorse. I believe that he feels tremendous remorse and wishes with all the fibres of his being that this tragedy would never have happened. I believe that Mr. Sidhu wishes that he could start April 6th all over again … I want the same. I want to start April 6th all over again.
“But Mr. Sidhu and I know that this cannot happen, and that Logan is not coming home.”
“I cannot touch him, hold him, comfort his wounds, share a hot tub, sit on our back deck, listen to his laugh, challenge his strength, shake his strong hand, create in the kitchen with him, share a beer, hunker down for some Netflix, watch him play all the sports he loved, watch him play and connect with children or just stand proudly by and wonder of his future accomplishments. I cannot be satisfied with what is now left to me of Logan. I have no say as the choice was not mine nor Logan’s to leave. Mr. Sidhu took that away.”
Logan Boulet’s sister writes in her victim impact statement how she hates now being an only child, adding she forgets how permanent this is.
— Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) January 28, 2019
Truck didn’t stop at intersection where crash happened
On Monday, court heard Sidhu barrelled through an oversized stop sign with a flashing red light before the April 6th bus crash.
An agreed statement of facts says Sidhu was going between 86 and 96 km/h when he drove into a rural Saskatchewan intersection north of Tisdale last April. The driver of the Broncos team bus hit the brakes and the bus skidded for about 24 metres before it T-boned the truck at an impact of between 96 and 107 km/h.
Crown prosecutor Thomas Healey says there was no way the bus driver could have avoided the collision — the transport truck was fully in the intersection across all lanes of traffic.
RCMP found no evidence that Sidhu had used drugs or alcohol or that he was distracted by a cellphone, and the weather and road conditions were good.
“I just want to hug my son … I want him to smile at me.”
Bernadine Boulet, Logan’s mother, said “I would give anything to wake up and have everything in the last 9 and a half months to be erased. But we all know this will never happen.”
“It is little things like the box of snack baggies I bought for treats for Logan’s birthday, or seeing the LEGO he loved in a store, or the boxes of yogurt tubes that sit in the freezer for lunches, or a red Jetta driving by, or students waiting to cross the street by the University of Lethbridge, or walking through the men’s shoe section at The Bay, or… It is little thing I don’t expect to stop me in my tracks, but they do. Those things are so hard to deal with and to move on with what is happening around me.
She says she still struggles with saying the word “death.”
“I struggle with the fact Logan will not be coming home again. I struggle with knowing our lives and stories will continue by Logan’s will not. This crash has cheated us all out of many things in our future, it has cheated Logan out of his future, and it has cheated us out of having Logan with us.”
“I just want to hug my son. I want to have a conversation with him and to hear his voice in that conversation. I want him to tease me. I want him to walk in our door and flop down on the couch. I want him to shake his leg during mealtime and to tell him to stop. I want him to leave his egg pan on the stove and say he will just use it again tomorrow. I want him to smile at me. I want to hear his giggle. I want to have Logan back. But that will never happen.”
Because there were some many victims, the hearing could see a few hundred statements entered as exhibits.
“We’ve also heard from players such as Ryan Straschnitzki, who said he will not be attending court, that this is no longer part of his journey. He’s decided that, for his betterment, it’s best to leave this in the hands of the police and the court and to leave this behind for themselves,” Courtney Theriault with CityNews Edmonton said from the scene.
“We’ve got other individuals who have said they’re a little uncertain as to how this will be for them. It is not going to bring back their son. But they’re glad that they don’t have to go through what could potentially have been a very lengthy court process.”
A safety review done for the Saskatchewan government was released in December. It said sight lines at the intersection are a safety concern and recommended removing a stand of trees obstructing the view of drivers approaching from the south and east — the same directions the bus and semi-trailer were coming from when they collided.
The owner of the Calgary trucking company that hired Sidhu also faces eight counts related to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations in the months before the crash.
In December, the Saskatchewan government introduced mandatory training for semi-truck drivers which is to begin in March.
– With files from Simon Druker