- Death & Loss of Life
#PrayersForHumboldt: Small Town Needs Global Strength After Devastating Tragedy
15 Lives Suddenly Gone
I don't play hockey or even follow the sport. I might attend the local team's games once in a while, but that's about it.
However, like so many others, I was deeply shaken when I read about the devastating accident that rocked the #HumboldtBroncos organization. 28 people were on the bus, heading to what should have been an exciting night playing hockey. Most of the people on the bus were little more than kids; the Broncos are a part of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, a junior A level organization where the players are anywhere from 16 to 20 years of age.
How in God's name do they rebuild from the events of April 6, 2018?
15 people lost their lives when a semi-tractor trailer apparently t-boned the team bus. Their head coach, Darcy Haugan, is gone, leaving behind a wife and kids. Team captain Logan Schatz, a 20-year-old who'd played with the SJHL for four years and was comfortable at the home of the Brochus, his billet family in Humboldt, was remembered by Sean Brochu - the Brochu's 13-year-old son who looked up to Schatz - as being "a lot nicer to [him] than [he is to his] own brother.” Team play-by-play announcer Tyler Bieber, a 29-year-old who worked for Bolt FM and spent much of his time volunteering in the community, was remembered by his family as an "amazing man," according to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.
Staff at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon remember the night of the accident as "tragic," with scenes of "organized chaos" very quickly developing as the patients began coming in. Dr. Hassan Masri said that there were some scenes of hope - such as the young boy trying to cuddle his wounded older brother - amidst the chaos as parents tried to defer news about their loved ones so that the emergency staff could continue to tend to the wounded. He said that the experience was even more tragic because of the overall context of what was supposed to happen that night.
“We’re talking about really young people who were going to play hockey. You expect them to come back home,” he said, according to Global News.
Those kids who survived the crash will be struggling with the aftermath of what happened for a good long while, as will the driver of the semi-tractor trailer who somehow survived the crash. Beyond wondering what happened to cause this tragedy, the big question will be how do we help these survivors live with what happened? Not all scars are physical, and it's certain that the players, their families and the driver involved will be reeling.
Yes, there is the Go Fund Me page that is set up to support those families whose kids were involved in the crash; over $2.9 million has been raised just in a day by over 43,000 people, with $4 million set as their overall goal, but how can we, as caring individuals, best help these families?
Perhaps the best way to help is simply by extending a hand. Stand with those who are tweeting their support. Everyone from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and yes, even President Donald Trump, have come forward to express their condolences in the wake of the tragedy. Sometimes, it's just a matter of being open to talking about the loss, or the person who died. Donate to the various causes being established in the name of the Humboldt Broncos that died, or even those that were injured; the injured will doubtless need rehab and probably counselling.
We cannot imagine the depth of loss that the town of Humboldt is feeling right now, or even how incredibly exposed the community might feel. Those who live in smaller communities tend to know the family atmosphere that very quickly develops between all members of that community, and while Humboldt residents are no doubt touched by the outpouring of support as they try to come to terms with the impossible, the lens that's now focused on the community of nearly 6,000 has to be overwhelming.
It will be a long time before things begin to feel even close to normal again for Humboldt and especially for the families of those involved in the crash. My heart aches for what they must be going through, and I sincerely hope that they feel the support from the thousands that have expressed their grief. They need that strength right now, just as they so very much need each other.