The Humboldt Broncos’ bus crash has struck home for hundreds of families in Terrace, millions across the country, whose children travel for sports frequently throughout the year. Perhaps none more so than Dave Jephson, Terrace’s deputy fire chief and minor-hockey-league bus driver of 17 years. The hockey dad could not help but think of the hundreds of Terrace kids, both athletes and others who travel for activities things like band, who are on the roads weekend after weekend throughout the winter.
“We had five hockey teams out of town on spring break: 25,000 kilometres of driving … and last weekend we had nine vehicles from Terrace on the road for volleyball,” said Jephson.
“You can’t help but think, ‘it could have been us.’”
The crash in Saskatchewan April 6 killed 10 hockey players between age 16 and 21 and six team staff members when a semi-truck t-boned the bus of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team on its way to a game.
Community vigils and memorials have followed, and people across the globe have expressed an outpouring of support for the community of Humboldt through social media and a go-fund-me page which brought in more than $10.8 million by late this week.
On Thursday, April 12, people in Terrace and across the country donned jerseys as an expression of solidarity with the Humboldt community and families.
As the deputy fire chief who often leads road rescue calls in Terrace, Jephson says he also thinks of the emergency service workers in times like this.
He imagines coming upon the scene, the scattered wreckage and suffering.
“Those images are going to be burned into the minds and into the memories of those members forever,” Jephson said.
“They have to learn to cope with that… and it takes its toll,” he said.
Every emergency service worker has memories they will never forget, Jephson said, noting tragically that suicide is on the rise among those in that field of work.
Terrace’s Penny Dejong, who has family in Humboldt and whose parents are from there, echoed Jesphson’s concern for all impacted by the accident.
“I can’t imagine what the families are going through,” she said. “And it extends to so many people. It’s not just the Humboldt Broncos. It’s the emergency crews, it’s everyone in the community. The community is very small there… so it impacts so many people.”
As a mom whose son plays hockey, Dejong says it does make parent pause.
“Whenever you travel, for sports or for anything really, it’s always on your mind,” she said, referring to the risk of the roads.
And yet, like many Canadian parents have expressed the past week, when asked whether she would stop her kids from taking these trips, Dejong was quick to shake her head.
“No, because they still need to live their lives and do what they love,” she said.
”You can’t stop living.”
Terrace hockey fan Clinton Ho is attempting to organize a floor hockey fundraiser tournament in Terrace April 28, to add to the support for the Humboldt community and family members.
The arena is booked and teams are invited to register by calling Clinton Ho by next Friday, April 20, at 250-641-3042. Volunteers are also invited to call.