A memorial made of hockey sticks, crosses and Canadian flags is seen at the crash site of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team near Tisdale, Sask., Friday, August, 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

Story of the Year: Deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The Canadian Press annual survey of newsrooms across the country saw 53 out of 129 editors cast their votes for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

A deadly bus crash that united a hockey-mad country in grief and spurred people to leave sticks on porches from coast to coast has been selected as Canada’s News Story of the Year.

The Canadian Press annual survey of newsrooms across the country saw 53 out of 129 editors cast their votes for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in rural Saskatchewan as the most compelling story of 2018.

The legalization of recreational cannabis in October came a close second with 51 votes.

“Although cannabis is landmark legislation, legalization arrived mostly with a shrug,” wrote Murray Wood, provincial news director with Saskatchewan radio stations CJME and CKOM.

“No story affected Canadians in 2018 more than the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.”

The junior hockey team was on its way to a playoff game when its bus and a semi-truck collided at a crossroads on April 6. Sixteen people were killed. Another 13 were injured.

The crash made headlines around the world and struck a chord with hockey-loving Canadians, many of whom saw themselves and their children in the young players and their grieving families.

Some of the players were changing into suits and others were texting girlfriends as the Junior A team’s bus headed to Nipawin for a matchup against the Hawks. It was at an intersection just north of Tisdale where the bus and a truck carrying a load of peat moss collided.

Motorists who stopped to help, as well as some parents who were also on their way to the game, were met with a chaotic, gruesome scene. Those who survived were sent to nearby hospitals, the dead to a makeshift morgue.

Read more: Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor still has a long recovery ahead: family

Read more: Humboldt Broncos emerge from tragedy

Aerial pictures of the devastation are seared into the nation’s memory.

“Almost everyone in this country has climbed onto a bus with their peers or put a child on a bus for an out-of-town trip,” wrote Tim Switzer, managing editor of the Regina Leader-Post newspaper. “Many people could relate.”

Ten players along with the team’s coach, an assistant coach, trainer, radio play-by-play announcer, statistician and the bus driver were killed. Of the injured, two players were paralyzed and two received serious brain injuries.

“The aching void of unrealized potential, the memorial services, and the fundraisers captured the interest of Canadians — in an event basically unmatched since Terry Fox’s death in the middle of his Marathon of Hope almost 40 years ago,” said Bill McGuire, editorial page editor of Charlottetown’s Guardian newspaper.

Canadians and others around the world started leaving hockey sticks on their front porches to honour the team. Many sticks are still standing outside.

“You only had to walk through the streets of Toronto for weeks afterwards and see all these hockey sticks on the front steps of people’s homes to know that this horrific accident, so many thousands of kilometres away, had reached in and tugged on the hearts of every hockey-loving Canadian,” said Janet Hurley, a senior editor at the Toronto Star.

People from more than 80 countries donated $15 million to support those on the bus and their families, making it the second-highest GoFundMe fundraiser of the year next to the Time’s Up legal defence fund to fight sexual harassment and discrimination.

Lorne Motley, editor-in-chief of the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun, noted that the Humboldt story continues to make headlines about truck-driver training, the painstaking recovery of survivors and calls from players’ families for mandatory seatbelts on buses and trucks.

The story will continue to be in the news in the new year.

RCMP have charged the truck’s driver, Jaskirat Sidhu, with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily injury.

Sukhmander Singh, owner of Adesh Deol Trucking in Calgary, also faces eight charges relating to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations in the months before the crash.

Chris Purdy, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sandstone project could transform southern face of Nanaimo

Seacliff Properties touting 3,000 homes, new commercial and industrial districts

New report finds ‘chronic’ shortage of daycare spaces across Greater Victoria

52 per cent of demand met in the best for six surveyed communities

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man walking from Hope to Saanich for healing, reconciliation

‘Kind Lightning’ James Taylor departed Sunday for five days journey

Out on a Limb: What I learned from living through a pandemic

Awesome, I thought, when the pandemic hit, I’ll learn some new skills.

Masks and temperature checks now mandatory to enter Nanaimo’s Woodgrove Centre

Mall says it’s the first in B.C. to put these kind of measures in place

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

COVID-19: New air carrier sought for Qualicum Beach Airport

Island Express Air ends operation due to pandemic

Purebred breeders go for a walk in Nanaimo to show off their dogs

Purebred dog breeders sometimes get a bad rap, says event organizer

Victoria man to run marathon after overcoming rare cancer diagnosis

Nigel Deacon was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2010

Authors nominated for Victoria Book Prize awards

Finalists for 2020 announced in two categories

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

B.C. ELECTION: Comox Valley ridings short on voter options as snap election called

Courtenay-Comox riding has two candidates; Mid Island-Pacific Rim only has one

West Shore RCMP seeks video footage after homeowner interrupts Colwood break and enter

Police were called to 600-block of Stornoway Drive late Sunday

Most Read