Last victim statements delivered at sentencing for trucker in Broncos crash
MELFORT, Sask. -- A Saskatchewan court heard Wednesday from the parents of an athletic therapist and a radio announcer killed in the Humboldt Broncos crash, along with a player who was misidentified as among the 16 dead.
The last of 90 victim impact statements were submitted in a sentencing hearing in Melfort for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, a Calgary trucker who blew through a stop sign at a rural intersection and into the path of the junior hockey team's bus last April.
Court heard the bus driver had no chance of avoiding a collision. It has also heard the semi driver had violated trucking rules and shouldn't have been on the road.
- Click to read the complete agreed statement of facts
- RCMP forensic collision report in the Humboldt bus crash: Document 11
- RCMP forensic collision report in the Humboldt bus crash: Document 14
- RCMP forensic collision report in the Humboldt bus crash: Document 15
Sidhu has pleaded guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving. Lawyers are to deliver sentencing arguments in the case Thursday.
Paul and Tanya LaBelle of Saskatoon told the hearing that they were at a vigil in Humboldt honouring their son, Xavier, and the others who had died days earlier when they got a phone call telling them there had been a mistake.
He was actually alive.
They rushed to the hospital and discovered he had mixed up with another player, 18-year-old Parker Tobin of Stony Plain, Alta.
Tanya LaBelle said they were devastated for the Tobin family, who had believed the boy in the hospital was their son.
"We grieved with them as they came to terms with the realization that their amazing son had not survived," she said. "We were devastated for them and their family."
Carol Brons told court that her daughter, Dayna Brons -- "the only girl on the bus" -- was proud of being a therapist for the hockey club and dreamed someday of working for the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team.
She said she is tormented by thoughts of her daughter's last moments on the Broncos' bus before it collided with the semi truck.
"Did Dayna see the truck? Did she cry out in fear and in pain?" Carol Brons wondered out loud.
She said she was looking forward to one day walking her daughter down the aisle at her wedding.
"We did walk Dayna down the aisle ... but we weren't escorting a bride. We were escorting a casket," Brons yelled through tears.
She said the coffin was closed for the funeral because her 24-year-old daughter from Lake Lenore, Sask. looked nothing like the beautiful brown-eyed woman she was before the crash.
Lyle Brons later told reporters that Sidhu has to be held responsible for the crash but that he's also a human being.
"He's not a serial killer," Brons said. "He didn't go out to kill anybody that day. I think after he serves his time he should be able to have a good life and perhaps do something with his life."
The mother of Tyler Bieber, the 29-year-old play-by-play announcer for the Broncos, told court she feels guilty about encouraging him to ride on the team's bus to cover games.
"To me it was the safest," said Marilyn Hay.
The day of the crash, she said her son left her a phone message saying he had decided to ride on the bus with the team as it travelled to Nipawin for a playoff game.
She later learned he died in the collision. She also hopes he didn't suffer.
"Did he know? Did he see it coming?" Hay said. "Did he have time to be scared?"
She also spoke directly to Sidhu and thanked him for pleading guilty. She noted that her son would have turned 30, the same age as Sidhu.
"I know he would feel for you as we feel for you. You did not intend to hurt anyone that day and you will deal with that for the rest of your life."
Assistant coach Chris Beaudry read the final statement at the hearing, describing how he was driving behind the bus before the crash and was later asked to help identify the bodies at a funeral home. He agreed because he wanted to help but has been left traumatized.
"The sounds of bones being set, skin being sewn, and the zipping of body bags. These sounds haunted me for months," he said. "Viewing each body was a shock upon shock upon shock."
Beaudry brought his new baby girl to court, who received the middle name Brons after the team's beloved therapist.
He also said he forgives Sidhu for causing the crash.
"Don't let your life be wasted. From today on, do as much good as you possibly can going forward. Be compassionate, love and most importantly forgive as others have forgiven you."