Nipawin, Saskatchewan, Canada: Fourteen people are reported dead and fifteen hospitalized after a bus carrying a junior hockey team, Humboldt Broncos, to a playoff game in Saskatchewan collided with a transport truck on a rural highway, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP. Three of the dead have now been identified as coach Darcy Haugan, captain Logan Schatz and player Adam Herold.
The crash involving the Humboldt Broncos team bus occurred on Highway 35 near Gronlid, more than 200 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, late Friday afternoon.
The bus was T-boned by a transport truck, according to the president of the Nipawin Hawks, which was scheduled to play the Broncos in Game 5 of a semi-final Friday night. There were 29 people, including the driver, on board the bus at the time of the collision, RCMP said in a release.
Police said three of the people transported to hospital have injuries that are “critical in nature.”
RCMP Inspector Ted Munro said “significant resources” had been deployed to the scene. As for fatalities, Munro said next of kin are being notified.
“At this time our primary focus is to treat the injured and get them to the required medical facilities,” Munro said at a press conference Friday night.
Three air ambulance helicopters were dispatched to the scene, according to a spokesperson from STARS Ambulance. Oddan said each air ambulance is capable of carrying up to two patients.
“This is a very unusual case, and we really wanted to be able to help as best we could with this tragic accident,” STARS spokesperson Mark Oddan said on Friday.
The Humboldt Broncos released a statement late Friday night announcing the news on its website.
“Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the families of our staff and athletes as well as to all who have been impacted by this horrible tragedy. Our Broncos family is in shock as we try to come to grips with our incredible loss,” Broncos President Kevin Garinger said in the release.
More than 100 people, including parents and grandparents of some of the players on the bus, are gathered at a church in Nipawin, Saskatchewan. according to a local pastor.
“Lots of them are waiting for information,” said Pastor Jordan Gadsby of the Apostolic Church. “Some of the families have gotten information and have gone to be with their kids. Some of them are waiting to hear if their kids are alive.”
Thirteen of the Humboldt Broncos players are from Saskatchewan, 10 are from Alberta, and one is from Manitoba.
The Nipawin Hawks were scheduled to play the team Friday night, but confirmed that the game was cancelled due to the crash.
A GoFundMe campaign for the team has been set up and has already raised more than $42,000 as of Saturday morning.
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, Tweeted, “I cannot imagine what these parents are going through, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, in the Humboldt community and beyond.”
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the collision “truly devastating” and offered condolences to family and friends of the victims.
“First responders are on the scene doing everything possible to help. Love + prayers to all,” Goodale said on Twitter.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said he found the news “difficult to comprehend.”
“To the City of Humboldt, the entire Broncos organization, and the families impacted by this tragedy, please know you are in Saskatchewan’s hearts,” Moe said in a Facebook statement.
“From a grieving province, thank you to every one of the first responders and medical professionals for your courageous response under the most difficult circumstances imaginable.”
The team is part of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is a Junior ‘A’ hockey league under Hockey Canada, which is part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. It’s open to North American-born players between the age of 16 and 20.
UPDATE: Canadian police say the death toll in a crash between a truck and a bus carrying a hockey team has risen to 15.
Police say there were 29 people on the bus, which was carrying the Humboldt Broncos, a team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
The rest of the passengers were taken to hospital with injuries, some critical.
The truck driver was not hurt