‘Nobody wins in this:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

MELFORT, Sask. - A truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison by a judge who said she believed his remorse was sincere, but she had to consider the serious consequences for so many people.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/03/2019 (1410 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MELFORT, Sask. – A truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison by a judge who said she believed his remorse was sincere, but she had to consider the serious consequences for so many people.

Tears began to flow almost as soon as Judge Inez Cardinal began her decision and continued afterwards as families sombrely gathered outside court.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu of Calgary had pleaded guilty in January to 29 counts of dangerous driving for killing 16 people and injuring 13 others on the junior hockey team’s bus.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu is taken out of the Kerry Vickar Centre by the RCMP following his sentencing for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Melfort, Sask., on Friday, March, 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis

The 30-year-old stood quietly and looked at the judge as he was sentenced. His punishment includes a 10-year driving ban. He also faces deportation to his home country of India after he serves time.

“Families have been torn apart because of the loss,” Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask. “They are prone to depression, anxiety or outbursts.”

She also spoke of the survivors, who she suggested “are putting on a brave face in an attempt to be strong.”

Marilyn Cross, whose son Mark was an assistant coach with the team, said seeing Sidhu go to prison for his death brings no comfort.

“The sentence is neither here nor there for me. Our son isn’t coming back. Nobody wins in this,” she said.

Raylene Herold and her husband, Russell, were among some family members wearing Broncos jerseys in court.

“We’re disappointed. We knew we were going to be disappointed. There’s no number that would have made me happy.” –Chris Joseph, father of crash victim

“For us, our life doesn’t change. Adam doesn’t come back,” she said as she broke into tears. “We have a lifetime sentence.”

The 16-year-old, the youngest Bronco on the bus, was to take over the family farm one day. His father said the upcoming one-year anniversary of the April 6 crash will be another painful reminder of what they’ve lost.

“We have emptiness, devastation … There’s an empty future there,” he said.

Cardinal said the loss expressed in nearly 100 victim impact statements was staggering and she approached the sentence knowing “nothing can turn back the clock.”

She went on to note that Sidhu barrelled through a stop sign as he drove a “huge, heavy, deadly” semi and the accident could have been avoided.

Members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team are shown in a photo posted to the team Twitter feed, @HumboldtBroncos on March 24, 2018 after a playoff win over the Melfort Mustangs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Twitter-@HumboldtBroncos MANDATORY CREDIT

“Mr. Sidhu had ample time to react … had he been paying attention,” she said.

The Crown wanted Sidhu to be sent to prison for 10 years, while the defence said other cases suggested a range of 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years.

“We’re disappointed. We knew we were going to be disappointed,” said former NHL player Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon was killed. “There’s no number that would have made me happy.”

Mark Dahlgren, whose son Kaleb suffered a brain injury, said the sentence was “one more step in the process.”

“We have an anniversary coming up that is going to be very, very tough. And I hope after that maybe we can get back to whatever our new normal is for everybody.”

“The Crown trusts that this message will send a very strong message to everyone using our highways … that criminal driving will not be tolerated.”–Prosecutor Thomas Healey

Sidhu said nothing as he was taken into custody, handcuffed and escorted by officers to a waiting SUV. His uncle from London, England, later gave a statement to reporters.

“On behalf of my family, I would like to express my sincere sympathy to the 29 families,” Chanan Singh Sidhu read. “We also feel indebted to the families and the Canadian public at large for the support, sympathy and understanding they have shown … for my nephew and our families.”

Cardinal began her decision by reading aloud each victim’s name. She said the people on the bus that afternoon were “not defined just by their association with hockey.”

“They were gifted athletes, community leaders, and team builders with hopes and dreams for the future … Some were dreaming of having a family, while others were already raising their families.”

Cardinal said several factors, including his remorse and guilty plea, saved Sidhu from a maximum sentence of 14 years.

But she pointed out he had missed several signs about the upcoming rural intersection and his lapse of attention had been prolonged.

The wreckage of a fatal crash outside of Tisdale, Sask., is seen Saturday, April, 7, 2018. The coroner in Saskatchewan has completed its investigation into the Humboldt Broncos crash that killed 16 people and injured 13 on the junior hockey team's bus last April. It has made six recommendations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

“This was not a momentary loss of attention. He had ample time to stop his unit. Mr. Sidhu wasn’t speeding but his speed was excessive.”

Court previously had heard that Sidhu was going between 86 and 96 km/h when he passed four signs warning him about the crossroads before he came up to an oversized stop sign with a flashing light.

Defence lawyer Mark Brayford had told court Sidhu was distracted by a flapping tarp on the back of his load of peat moss.

Sidhu had been hired by a small Calgary trucking company three weeks before the crash. He spent two weeks with another trucker before heading out on his own for the first time just days before the crash.

The Humboldt Broncos hockey team issued a statement soon after the sentence.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu arrives for his sentencing hearing in Melfort, Sask., Friday, March, 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis

“Having … the sentencing complete is a big step in the healing process for the survivors, grieving families, our organization and the community of Humboldt and surrounding area,” said president Jamie Brockman.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Factors in sentencing

In her ruling, Judge Inez Cardinal said there have been no other cases before the courts in Canada like this one. She cited several considerations she made in her decision.

Mitigating factors:

— Sidhu entered early guilty pleas to all charges.

— He apologized in court to the victims and their families. Cardinal said she believes his remorse is sincere.

— Although not physically injured, he will suffer psychologically.

— He is 30 years old with no previous criminal history and a clean driving record.

— Alcohol or drugs were not involved.

— Sidhu had not been using his cellphone while driving at any point before the collision.

— He faces deportation after his sentence.

Aggravating factors:

— Sidhu was driving a large commercial vehicle and missed five highway signs, including a large stop sign with a flashing light.

— He had ample time to stop but did not brake, reduce his speed or take evasive action.

— His actions killed 16 innocent people and caused life-altering injuries to 13 other innocent people.

— The devastating impact of the crash and its aftermath on families, friends and survivors cannot be measured.

— The injured face lifelong challenges as a result of physical and psychological injuries.

— “The impact of this catastrophe will reverberate across Canada for years to come,” said Cardinal.

-The Canadian Press

Trucker likely to be deported after sentence: lawyer

An immigration lawyer says the truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan is likely to be deported to India right after he serves his sentence.

An immigration lawyer says the truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan is likely to be deported to India right after he serves his sentence.

Lorne Waldman, who is based in Toronto and is not involved in the case, says there’s little 30-year-old Jaskirat Singh Sidhu can do to remain in Canada.

Waldman says permanent residents such as Sidhu cannot remain in the country if they commit a crime for which the maximum sentence is at least 10 years or their jail sentence is more than six months.

And he says that with a term of more than six months, there’s no right to appeal a deportation order.

Sidhu is to be sentenced today in Melfort, Sask., for dangerous driving after pleading guilty in January.

Sidhu’s sentencing hearing heard that his girlfriend immigrated to Toronto in 2013 and he followed her shortly after. The pair were students and moved to Calgary.

In January 2018, the couple travelled back to India and were married Feb. 15. They returned to Canada in March. Three weeks before the crash, he was hired by a small Calgary trucking company.

Waldman said Sidhu would have the right to make a submission to immigration authorities explaining his situation before deportation proceedings were to begin — but it would be a long shot.

“The facts of this case are extremely sympathetic if it were not for the horrible consequences of what happened. It was a one-time lapse — no drinking, no other criminal offences,” he said.

“But it was such a serious offence, and the consequences were so great, that I would think it would be hard for him to be successful in convincing someone not to proceed with a deportation process against him.”

Waldman said immigration authorities usually visit offenders in jail, where they’re informed they are inadmissible to stay in Canada, that a report has been written and that they have three weeks to send submissions.

“Immigration authorities will not wait. They’ll probably start the deportation process relatively quickly,” Waldman said.

But a deportation order isn’t acted upon until an offender is released.

Such offenders are banned from ever returning to Canada unless they can persuade authorities when reapplying that theirs is a special humanitarian case.

-Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

A list of those killed and injured in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash

Judge Inez Cardinal began the sentencing by reading aloud each of the victim’s names.

Judge Inez Cardinal began the sentencing by reading aloud each of the victim’s names.

The 13 players who were injured:

Graysen Cameron: The 19-year-old forward from Olds, Alta., can’t play hockey again after suffering back injuries, a concussion and an eye injury. He had surgery in November to remove metal rods and screws in an attempt to improve his mobility. He has become an assistant coach for the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs, a top-tier, triple-A hockey team in the Alberta Midget Hockey League.

Brayden Camrud: The 20-year-old forward from Saskatoon overcame a severe concussion, loss of feeling in one of his arms and neck issues. He also had some cuts on his hands. He has returned to play with the Broncos this season and continues to attend physiotherapy.

Kaleb Dahlgren: The 21-year-old forward from Saskatoon received a fractured skull, a puncture wound in his head, a brain injury and six broken vertebrae in his back and neck. He also had blood clots in one arm and behind one eardrum. He is still in rehabilitation and is seeing a neurologist to determine if he will be able to play competitive hockey. He attends York University in Toronto full time and has committed to play for the university’s Lions hockey team.

Bryce Fiske: The 21-year-old defenceman from La Ronge, Sask., suffered a neck fracture, skull fracture, left shoulder fracture and pelvis fracture. His spleen was lacerated and his left lung was punctured. His jaw was fractured in four places, he’s missing two teeth and his tongue was severely injured. He is still in a significant amount of jaw pain and in treatment for his injuries. He is studying commerce and playing hockey for the Ridgebacks at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

Morgan Gobeil: The 19-year-old defenceman from Humboldt, Sask., has a traumatic brain injury. He sustained multiple skull fractures, three facial fractures, rib fractures and lacerations to his liver and spleen. He spent 333 days in hospital and was the last injured player to be released. He takes part in physical therapy, where he is working on balance, sitting on his own, standing on his own and taking steps.

Matthieu Gomercic: The 21-year-old forward from Winnipeg had a separated shoulder, a concussion and cuts to his hand and chin. His spleen was enlarged, his teeth shifted and his jaw was slightly displaced. He gets headaches and has problems with one shoulder. He also continues to deal with emotional issues as a result of the crash on a daily basis. He has joined the Ridgebacks at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and is studying kinesiology.

Xavier LaBelle: The 19-year-old defenceman from Saskatoon suffered a fractured skull, facial fractures and deep lacerations, as well as a brain injury that led to post-traumatic amnesia for two weeks. He has scarring on his face, neck, head, arms and back. The severe facial and other injuries made him unrecognizable after the crash, which resulted in a misidentification that led to further chaos and heartbreak for many. He continues to face daily challenges.

Layne Matechuk: The 19-year-old defenceman from Colonsay, Sask., suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. He had extensive facial fractures and a sternum fracture. Both of his lungs collapsed. He was in a coma for a month and had to learn to walk and talk again. He is able to walk, but has a significant limp. He also has difficulty using his one arm due to the brain injury. The extent of his recovery from the brain injury is still not known.

Derek Patter: The 20-year-old forward from Edmonton suffered bleeding outside his brain, as well as right shin and fibula fractures, a nasal bone fracture and significant cuts and bruises. He continues to struggle with his leg. He has returned to play with the Broncos this season.

Nick Shumlanski: The 21-year-old forward from Tisdale, Sask., walked away from the crash despite having a fractured bone behind his ear and a lumbar avulsion fracture. He has been told the physical injuries to his ear may never heal but he doesn’t expect that will have a significant effect. His back seems to have healed, but he continues to deal with emotional issues as a result of the collision. He is playing hockey for the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Tyler Smith: The 20-year-old forward from Leduc, Alta., had two broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade, a broken collarbone and a punctured lung. He had six inches removed from his small intestine due to the injuries. He also had a stroke and is required to take Aspirin daily. He is expected to require annual MRIs. He returned to play with the Broncos for about a month in the fall, but decided to step away so he can continue his recovery at home.

Ryan Straschnitzki: The 19-year-old defenceman from Airdrie, Alta., suffered a brain bleed, concussion with memory loss, cracked right shoulder blade and a collapsed right lung. He was also paralyzed from the chest down and the injury is expected to be permanent. Straschnitzki played in an exhibition sledge hockey charity game in Calgary in September and is hoping to eventually represent Canada at the Winter Olympics.

Jacob Wassermann: The 20-year-old goalie from Humboldt, Sask., suffered a brain injury, a broken shoulder blade, fractured ribs and nasal bone fractures. Both of his lungs collapsed and a spinal cord injury resulted in paralysis from the naval down. It’s expected to be permanent. He attends physiotherapy three times a week to get stronger. His father said in November that Jacob has started to have movement in his hips. He has turned to sledge hockey to keep his on-ice dream alive.

The 16 who died in the crash:

Logan Alexander Boulet: A 21-year-old defenceman from Lethbridge, Alta.

Adam Scott Herold: A 16-year-old defenceman from Montmartre, Sask.

Logan William Hunter: An 18-year-old forward from St. Albert, Alta.

Jaxon Christopher Joseph: A 20-year-old forward from St. Albert, Alta.

Jacob Paul Benjamin Leicht: A 19-year-old forward from Humboldt, Sask.

Conner Jamie Lukan: A 21-year-old forward from Slave Lake, Alta.

Logan Evan Schatz: A 20-year-old forward from Allan, Sask.

Evan Thomas: An 18-year-old forward from Saskatoon, Sask.

Parker Allen Tobin: An 18-year-old goalie from Stony Plain, Alta.

Stephen Wack: A 21-year-old defenceman from St. Albert, Alta.

Tyler Anthony Bieber: A 29-year-old play-by-play announcer from Humboldt, Sask.

Dayna Brons: A 24-year-old athletic therapist from Lake Lenore, Sask.

Mark Travis Cross: A 27-year-old assistant coach from Strasbourg, Sask.

Glen Doerksen: A 59-year-old bus driver from Carrot River, Sask.

Darcy Haugan: The team’s 42-year-old head coach from Humboldt, Sask.

Brody Joseph Hinz: The team’s 18-year-old statistician from Humboldt, Sask.

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