The parents of a Humboldt Broncos hockey player who was misidentified after a fatal bus crash say they learned he hadn’t been killed while they were attending a vigil honouring him and others who died.
Paul and Tanya LaBelle of Saskatoon told a sentencing hearing for the truck driver who caused the crash that they received a call about the unbelievable news.
They discreetly told other family members at the vigil before travelling to the Saskatoon hospital where their son Xavier had been mixed up with another player, Parker Tobin.
Tanya LaBelle said they were devastated for the Tobin family.
“We grieved with them,” she said Wednesday as the last of 75 victim impact statements were submitted in a makeshift court in Melfort, Sask.
“We are devastated for them and their family.”
Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who is 30 and from Calgary, has pleaded guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving for causing the crash last April that killed 16 people and injured 13 others.
Court has heard that Sidhu blew through a stop sign at a rural intersection and the bus driver had no chance of avoiding a collision.
The mother of the athletic therapist for the Broncos told the hearing that she is tormented by thoughts of her daughter’s last moments on the hockey team’s bus before it collided with Sidhu’s semi truck.
“Did Dayna see the truck? Did she cry out in fear and in pain?” Carol Brons wondered out loud.
Brons said she was looking forward to one day walking her daughter down the aisle at her wedding.
“We did walk Dayna down the aisle … but we weren’t escorting a bride. We were escorting a casket,” Brons yelled through tears.
She said the coffin was closed for the funeral because her 24-year-old daughter looked nothing like the beautiful brown-eyed woman she was before the crash.
Lyle Brons said his daughter was hard-working, fun-loving and brought love, care and happiness to people around her.
He said Sidhu’s guilty plea and show of remorse have made things somewhat easier.
“I don’t know if I completely forgive Mr. Sidhu yet, but I know eventually I will,” he said. “I pray that everyone affected by this tragedy, including Mr. Sidhu, will somehow find peace and happiness in their lives.”
Several families have said the biggest question they have is why Sidhu barrelled past the sign and into the path of the junior hockey team’s bus.
They also want to hear from the driver himself.
“All he had to do was stop,” Scott Thomas of Saskatoon, whose 18-year-old son Evan died, said Tuesday.
“I want to know why. That would be a huge part in me finding forgiveness to understand why.”
An agreed statement of facts said Sidhu was not impaired or distracted and road and weather conditions were good at the time.
After the crash, it was discovered that Sidhu had 70 violations of federal and provincial trucking regulations and inspection rules. Had he been stopped, he would have been suspended from driving for 72 hours.
It’s expected Sidhu will also get a chance to address the court. He has yet to speak publicly about the crash, although his lawyer has said Sidhu takes responsibility for what happened. He has been seen wiping away tears during the hearing.
Chris Purdy and Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press