The driver of the truck that collided with the Humboldt Broncos’ bus is a 30-year-old who had just started a job at a two-vehicle trucking company a month ago, says the owner of the firm.
Sukhmander Singh, the owner of Calgary-based Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., said the man, whom he declined to name, completed 15 days of training about two weeks ago. But he did not elaborate on any other experience or training the driver may have had.
Mr. Singh, who went to pick up the Calgary-based driver from Saskatoon on Saturday, said he is waiting for the results of the investigation but doesn’t believe his driver is at fault. He noted the driver had to break the glass in the truck to get outside after the massive collision.
He said the driver, who is married and is about 30 years old, is beyond upset.
“The driver is not doing well, the guy is going to the doctor, the guy is scared, the guy is not able to eat [...] the guy is getting counselling.”
Mr. Singh added: “I will try to help the families. I will try my best — [to do] what I can do for the families.”
Alberta Transportation has suspended the safety fitness certificate of Mr. Singh’s trucking firm, which has operated in Alberta since last September. The statement described the suspension as standard procedure and means the company cannot operate.
Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. is registered to Mr. Singh at a residential address in northeast Calgary. The company was registered in 2014, according to a corporate registry search. The agency said the company had a clean record in that province – with no convictions, collisions or violations – and passed inspections in February and March.
However, court records indicate a company with that name was issued a ticket in January for parking a truck off a truck route and another in February for a commercial vehicle stopped on the highway. The parking infraction was in Calgary, while the highway ticket was in the jurisdiction of the traffic court in Drumheller.
Those infractions would be in the records only if they resulted in convictions, an Alberta Transportation spokesman said.
Fifteen people, including 10 players between the ages of 16 and 21, were killed when a semi-trailer crashed into a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League late Friday afternoon.
A dozen players are in hospital in Saskatoon with injuries, some of which are life-threatening, Doug Dahl, a spokesman for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, told The Globe and Mail Tuesday.
Four are in critical condition, another four are in serious condition and four are in stable condition.
People across the country have reached out to the semi-trailer driver, who was not injured and has not yet been identified.
An open letter to the driver, posted on Reddit and reposted on Facebook, has been shared more than 140,000 times in two days and generated messages of support from the trucking community.
“Although the exact cause of the collision and the events leading up to it remain unknown to us, we do know that you didn’t set out to do harm as you turned the ignition that fateful day,” the letter states.
Deanna Cummings, a 23-year-old Edmonton resident attending school in Ottawa, said she felt compelled to repost the letter, whose original author is not identified, on Facebook because it tapped into Canadian sensibilities.
“In tragedies and accidents, a lot of people are quick to … look for someone to blame,” she said in an interview. “This letter, when I read it, instead of doing that, it tried to call for compassion and to remember that the truck driver wasn’t setting out to do harm. At the end of the day, he’s also one of the victims of the accident.”
In Humboldt, attention turned on Tuesday to supporting students as they returned to school without some of their classmates.
Kevin Garinger, director of education for the Horizon School Division and president of the Broncos, said schools were closed on Monday. Classes resumed on Tuesday with the focus on the well-being of students and staff.
Five of the players were students and three were former students, he said. Some teachers and staff even billeted the players.
“These were our kids,” Mr. Garinger said, choking back tears. “These athletes are and were heroes to many and, in them, our students see shining examples of the young adults and athletes they’re dreaming of growing up to be.”
The RCMP continue to investigate.
With reports from Mike Hager in Vancouver and the Canadian Press