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The wreckage of the fatal crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team on April 7.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

The RCMP’s major crimes unit is leading the investigation into the Humboldt Broncos bus crash that left 16 people dead and is prioritizing it over other collisions, but they still don’t know what caused it, the force said Thursday.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions and our investigators are committed to providing those answers,” Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, who is the commanding officer for Saskatchewan, told a news conference Thursday.

Twenty-nine people were on the junior hockey team’s bus when it collided with a semi-trailer involved in the crash at a rural Saskatchewan intersection earlier this month.

Investigators recovered the engine control modules from the hockey team’s bus and the semi-trailer. The modules, which record data including changes in speed, revolutions a minute of engines and the application of brakes, were taken to California for further expert analysis this week.

Police have conducted more than 50 interviews, including “independent witnesses,” the driver of the semi-truck, the owner of the trucking company and some of the victims. More interviews are scheduled.

The reconstruction team has taken more than 5,500 photos and is using 3-D technology and unmanned aerial vehicles to gather evidence and analyze “every aspect” of the scene, Assistant Commissioner Zablocki said. He said the investigation could take months.

“This one obviously – given the magnitude, the scope, and the complexity – quite frankly, it is being prioritized,” he said. “We have significant resources dedicated to the completion of the investigation.”

Given that complexity, he said it’s not unusual for the major crimes unit to be assigned to such a case.

He said the RCMP know the road conditions were clear and the sun was shining at the time of the crash, which was about 5 p.m.

The RCMP closed the intersection on Thursday and sent seven RCMP collision reconstruction specialists and five collision analysts. Investigators have also collected driver log books at the scene, and will examine hours of work, rest time, brake checks, and compliance with safety standards, he said.

“The preliminary investigation has determined that the tractor-trailer unit was in the intersection at the time of the collision, and I can assure you that all of our efforts are dedicated to determining why the tractor-trailer unit was in the intersection,” he said.

The semi-truck was travelling west on Highway 335 while the bus was headed north on Highway 35 toward Nipawin, where that night’s playoff game was scheduled. Highway 35 has the right-of-way, while the truck’s route on Highway 335 has stop signs.

No charges have been laid and Assistant Commissioner Zablocki said it is too early to comment on any criminal involvement in the investigation.

The driver of the semi-trailer was uninjured in the crash. He was immediately taken into custody – which police have previously described as routine – and released later that evening.

The driver remains in “regular contact” with the RCMP, Assistant Commissioner Zablocki said. The driver of the hockey team’s bus was killed in the crash.

Sukhmander Singh, the owner of Calgary-based Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., which was involved in the crash, said the driver is doing better. The driver has not been named.

“He’s feeling good now and going to the doctor,” said Mr. Singh, who added the driver is still in counselling.

Mr. Singh said he’s basically out of business after Alberta Transportation ordered that his company keep its only other truck off the road. The move is standard when a company has been involved in a serious accident, the province has said.

“I’m just waiting for the investigation,” Mr. Singh said.

The truck driver joined the company about a month ago and had completed 15 days of training in March, Mr. Singh told The Globe and Mail earlier this month.

Of the 13 survivors, six people remain in hospital, including two in critical condition, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page dedicated to the Humboldt Broncos, which the online crowdfunding service says is the largest-ever Canadian campaign, stopped taking donations at midnight Wednesday, as planned.

The GoFundMe page said $15,185,700 was raised from more than 142,000 contributors in 12 days, with donations coming in from across Canada and around the world. Humboldt resident Sylvie Kellington started the fundraising effort.

With files from The Canadian Press

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