© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

15 Dead In Canadian Junior Hockey Team Bus Crash

Emergency crews respond to a crash involving a bus carrying the junior hockey team. Police say 15 people died.
650 CKOM/980 CJME via AP

Updated at 6:07 p.m. ET

A bus carrying a Canadian junior hockey team crashed in the western province of Saskatchewan on the way to a game Friday, killing 15 people.

There were 29 people on the bus, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. Fifteen people were initially taken to the hospital, one of whom died Saturday.

The hockey team, the Humboldt Broncos, belongs to a league for players between the ages of 16 and 20. Canadian police haven't released the names or ages of anyone involved in the crash.

"It's disbelief. It's shock," the team's president, Kevin Garinger, told the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. "The deepest grief that you can ever imagine."

A semitrailer hit the team's bus near the city of Tisdale, Saskatchewan, at 5 p.m. local time Friday, the RCMP says. The Broncos were traveling about 125 miles to Nipawin for a playoff game that evening.

The crash prompted a wide showing of national grieving and support in Canada, where hockey is a symbol of national pride and many young people play. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his supportfor Humboldt.

President Trump tweeted Saturdaythat he spoke with Trudeau to "pay my highest respect and condolences to the families of the terrible Humboldt Team tragedy."

Scott Moe, premier of the Saskatchewan province, where the team is from, offered support to the town and thanked first responders.

"Our province has always been one community," Moe wrote on Facebook. "At our core, we are one small town, neighbours, friends and families."

That is especially true of Humboldt, a town of less than 6,000 people in Canada's Great Plains region. Speaking to reporters, Mayor Rob Muenchrecalled a recent game when the team was down. "And they came back," he said. "So we're hoping to do that as a community as well."

Many of the town's residents gathered Friday night at Elgar Petersen Arena, where the Broncos play their home games. The Star-Phoenix reports that the sound of people asking for updates on the phone was occasionally punctuated by groups of people sobbing.

"We were a family," a former Broncos player, Daigon Elmy, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "You come to the rink ... what's better than that? Now I don't know what goes on."

The RCMP hasn't released many details about the crash. It says an investigation is taking place. But the president of the Nipawin Hawks, who were scheduled to be the Broncos' opponent Friday, told the Star-Phoenix the truck had "T-boned" the bus. The father of one of the team's players described a crane lifting the bus after the wreck.

For many Canadians, this crash was reminiscent of another one involving youth hockey players in Saskatchewan. A 1986 crash outside of Swift Current killed four junior hockey players.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: April 6, 2018 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous version of this story misspelled Daigon Elmy's last name as Elny.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.