A memorial made of hockey sticks, crosses and Canadian flags is seen at the crash site of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team near Tisdale, Sask., Friday, August, 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

A memorial made of hockey sticks, crosses and Canadian flags is seen at the crash site of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team near Tisdale, Sask., Friday, August, 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

Story of the Year: Deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The Canadian Press annual survey of newsrooms across the country saw 53 out of 129 editors cast their votes for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

A deadly bus crash that united a hockey-mad country in grief and spurred people to leave sticks on porches from coast to coast has been selected as Canada’s News Story of the Year.

The Canadian Press annual survey of newsrooms across the country saw 53 out of 129 editors cast their votes for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in rural Saskatchewan as the most compelling story of 2018.

The legalization of recreational cannabis in October came a close second with 51 votes.

“Although cannabis is landmark legislation, legalization arrived mostly with a shrug,” wrote Murray Wood, provincial news director with Saskatchewan radio stations CJME and CKOM.

“No story affected Canadians in 2018 more than the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.”

The junior hockey team was on its way to a playoff game when its bus and a semi-truck collided at a crossroads on April 6. Sixteen people were killed. Another 13 were injured.

The crash made headlines around the world and struck a chord with hockey-loving Canadians, many of whom saw themselves and their children in the young players and their grieving families.

Some of the players were changing into suits and others were texting girlfriends as the Junior A team’s bus headed to Nipawin for a matchup against the Hawks. It was at an intersection just north of Tisdale where the bus and a truck carrying a load of peat moss collided.

Motorists who stopped to help, as well as some parents who were also on their way to the game, were met with a chaotic, gruesome scene. Those who survived were sent to nearby hospitals, the dead to a makeshift morgue.

Read more: Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor still has a long recovery ahead: family

Read more: Humboldt Broncos emerge from tragedy

Aerial pictures of the devastation are seared into the nation’s memory.

“Almost everyone in this country has climbed onto a bus with their peers or put a child on a bus for an out-of-town trip,” wrote Tim Switzer, managing editor of the Regina Leader-Post newspaper. “Many people could relate.”

Ten players along with the team’s coach, an assistant coach, trainer, radio play-by-play announcer, statistician and the bus driver were killed. Of the injured, two players were paralyzed and two received serious brain injuries.

“The aching void of unrealized potential, the memorial services, and the fundraisers captured the interest of Canadians — in an event basically unmatched since Terry Fox’s death in the middle of his Marathon of Hope almost 40 years ago,” said Bill McGuire, editorial page editor of Charlottetown’s Guardian newspaper.

Canadians and others around the world started leaving hockey sticks on their front porches to honour the team. Many sticks are still standing outside.

“You only had to walk through the streets of Toronto for weeks afterwards and see all these hockey sticks on the front steps of people’s homes to know that this horrific accident, so many thousands of kilometres away, had reached in and tugged on the hearts of every hockey-loving Canadian,” said Janet Hurley, a senior editor at the Toronto Star.

People from more than 80 countries donated $15 million to support those on the bus and their families, making it the second-highest GoFundMe fundraiser of the year next to the Time’s Up legal defence fund to fight sexual harassment and discrimination.

Lorne Motley, editor-in-chief of the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun, noted that the Humboldt story continues to make headlines about truck-driver training, the painstaking recovery of survivors and calls from players’ families for mandatory seatbelts on buses and trucks.

The story will continue to be in the news in the new year.

RCMP have charged the truck’s driver, Jaskirat Sidhu, with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily injury.

Sukhmander Singh, owner of Adesh Deol Trucking in Calgary, also faces eight charges relating to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations in the months before the crash.

Chris Purdy, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langley City’s Twin Rinks is one of the Lower Mainland sites where Adult Safe Hockey League adult hockey has resumed for the modified fall season. (Canlan Ice Sports Corp. Facebook)
Beer league hockey starts fall season at rinks in Langley, Burnaby and the North Shore

New rules are meant to minimize unintentional contact, including new ways to do face offs

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Updated: Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

(Black Press Media files)
‘Potentially damaging’ winds expected in Metro Vancouver

Wind is expected to pick up late Sunday night

A hand-drawn ‘stairway to heaven’ was part of an memorial left for a cyclist who died from a medical emergency near 206 Street and 66 Avenue on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Children leave memorial for cyclist who died in Langley

‘Hope you make it to heaven’ the note reads

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

The Abbotsford Police Department is investigating a shooting on Adair Avenue on Saturday night. (Photo by Dale Klippenstein)
Drive-by shooting in Abbotsford targeted home with young children, police say

Investigators believe home was mistakenly targeted by assailants

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

(File photo)
Vancouver police warn of toxic drug supply after 7 people overdose at one party

Seven people between the ages of 25 to 42 were taken to hospital for further treatment.

Most Read