This week, victim impact statements were read publicly during the sentencing hearing for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver who caused the crash with the Humboldt Broncos team bus last year. Today, readers are responding to Gary Mason’s column There’s no shame in feeling sorry for the man responsible for the Humboldt bus tragedy.
Many readers agree with the column, expressing sympathy for the driver who must now live with the terrible reality of the damage he has caused.
Thank you for a reasonable opinion piece. I doubt Mr. Sidhu got up that morning intending to destroy lives. It was a terrible accident, his fault, but it was not intentional. People make mistakes.
Who of us has never drove through a stop sign or traffic signal ever. If you drive often and long enough it will happen. It makes you sick just thinking of the consequence. But you got lucky nothing did happen. We are all human. We are not infallible. Same goes for truck drivers. People also got killed by bus drivers making mistakes. What we really need on intersections like this are roundabouts. They slow everybody down and eliminate direct T-bone hits.
I have never met Mr. Sidhu and I don't know what inattention or failure of judgement caused him to run a stop sign. But I suspect he is a normal human being and the truth is, the very grave situation he finds himself in could be visited upon anyone of us. The realm of human endeavour is seldom distinguished by perfection, and operating a vehicle is no different. We all make mistakes. Fortunately most of them don't result in tragic consequences, but Mr. Sidhu was not so fortunate. Now he, along with the many other victims of this tragedy, will pay for his mistake for the rest of his life. Human frailty being what it is, the potential for serious consequences exits all around us. This is a cruel reality of the life we all share, and while finding hope in always trying to do better, we can only feel great sorrow for all its victims when such a tragic event occurs.
No winners here, only terrible losses. This man must feel like his life is over, he is worthless and he knows that he will wake up every day and relive the horror. The only people who are hurting worse than him are the victims and their families. I doubt that he intended to hurt anyone. No punishment for him can be greater than facing each day with the memory of what pain he has caused. Would he who has never made a mistake driving like to cast the first stone?
NEA2 in response:
We did not kill 15 people by being reckless and most of us obey traffic laws. Stone cast.
jeffina in response:
The point is that you, or anyone else, could have killed 15 people, reckless or not, obedient to traffic laws or not. Horrible things happen.
Other readers shared different views and looked to failings in the system:
Then, equally, there is no shame in not feeling sorry for the man responsible for the Humboldt bus tragedy. He committed a crime that resulted in multiple deaths. However, there is certainly merit in holding governments responsible for the lack of adequate regulation of the trucking industry in Canada.
No seat belts. That’s on us.
"Mr. Sidhu; one mother, sobbing and gasping, looked at him directly and called him an “arrogant and inconsiderate monster with no regard for life or rules or laws.” We must respect this viewpoint as well." No we must not. This statement reflects all that is wrong with victim impact statements. Our justice system is supposed to serve society - not provide a personal revenge forum for those who are hurt. It is fairly obvious that this tragedy was caused by a moment’s inattention and not because of a person being a "monster". This does not detract from the awfulness of what happened or do anything to reduce the grief of the families of the dead or the suffering of the survivors. However, vengeance will not accomplish those aims either. As a CBC reporter so eloquently put it "Mr. Sidhu did not run 29 stop signs, he ran one stop sign". Please don't for a second think that I do not understand the anguish of those who lost a family member or the diminished lives of the survivors. It was a terrible tragedy. However, hatred, vengeance and vitriol will not make that better.
JKen1 in response:
I have every compassion for Mr. Sidhu but I have more compassion for that poor mother who lost her son and cannot forgive that driver. He was arrogant and inconsiderate. It was not a matter of inattention, he deliberately ignored that stop sign and all the other warnings before it. I would hope to feel forgiveness but I know I may be feeling exactly the same as that mother if my son had been killed.
The sympathy for Mr. Sidhu is connected to his apparently sincere remorse; however, I also sympathise with the mother who called him an inconsiderate monster. One doesn't blow through stop signs at almost 100 km/hr without inviting serious repercussions.
From the archives: What we know about the Humboldt bus crash victims
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