‘Great group of kids:’ Stories of 15 killed in Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The vigil took place Sunday night at the Broncos home arena in central Saskatchewan

UPDATE:

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice says one of the deceased in Friday’s bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos was misidentified. Read more by clicking here.

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ORIGINAL:

Family and friends of 15 lives lost in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash shared more stories Sunday of tears, fond memories, and unbreakable bonds forged by a love of hockey.

While the vigil was set for Sunday night at the Broncos home arena, more names were confirmed of those killed early Friday evening at an east-central Saskatchewan highway intersection in a collision with a tractor-trailer.

Named Sunday were Broncos defencemen Adam Herold, Xavier Labelle and Logan Boulet; forwards Evan Thomas, Jacob Leicht and Conner Lukan; and assistant coach Mark Cross. Bus driver Glen Doerksen was confirmed among the dead, as well as statistics keeper Brody Hinz.

Scott Thomas remembered his 18-year-old son as a strong athlete — playing both hockey and baseball — and a good student. But he was a teammate first.

“He liked sports, but at times I think he tolerated sports so he could be a teammate,” said Thomas. “He just loved being a teammate. He loved his teammates and I think that was more important to him than the actual sport he was playing.

“He loved those boys. He really loved those boys.”

Thomas said that before Christmas he spoke with the team’s head coach, Darcy Haugan, who was also killed in the crash, about whether there would be any trades for the second half of the season.

“Darcy just said, ‘You know, Scott, there’s something about this group of kids that’s special,’” he recalled. ”He didn’t want to make any changes because they are such a great group of kids.”

Boulet’s cousin Julie Kindt said on Facebook that Boulet, 21, had been on life support until his organs could be donated.

“He was a great kid who really loved his family and hockey,” his uncle Daniel Boulet also wrote on Facebook.

Assistant coach Chris Beaudry was driving his own vehicle to the game the night of the crash. He described his colleague, Mark Cross, as one of the happiest people he’s ever met. Cross was from Strasbourg, Sask., where he played hockey before joining the Broncos’ coaching staff.

“His first game, we found a tin of mints and ever since then it’s been alternating back and forth, buying mints for each other and sharing it as a joke. We’d end up gong through a whole tin every game,” said Beaudry.

“He was a beautiful guy to be around.”

Hinz was 18. Golden West Radio said in a statement that he was being mentored by Tyler Bieber, the team’s play-by-play announcer, who was also killed in the crash. Another company statement described Hinz as an intern still in high school.

“Tragedy has hit our community and it reaches into every corner of life in Humboldt,” Lyndon Frieson, president of Golden West Radio, said in a statement posted on the station’s website.

The manager of Herold’s previous team, the Regina Pat Canadians, confirmed his death. The defenceman would have turned 17 on Thursday. John Smith said Herold played for the Canadians until just a few weeks ago and, when their season wrapped up, he was sent to the Broncos for their playoff round.

Labelle, 18, was confirmed dead by his brother Isaac Labelle in an Instagram post.

“I have no words to describe what I’m feeling. Best friends, teammates, allies, brothers,” he wrote. ”We’ve been through so much together. We had a special bond from the day you were born.”

Leicht, 19, was remembered for his laugh and bright smile. A family member posted on Facebook that her heart is broken.

“Your laughter is so contagious and you had a smile that lit up any room,” Cassidy Tolley wrote in her public post.

Doerksen’s employer, Charlie’s Charters, posted about the driver’s death on Facebook. Another team he drove for, the Kinistino Tigers, also issued a statement.

“In talking to him, he spoke at length of his time in rinks with his own family and now how much he enjoyed being able to take and watch other teams from minor, to senior to SJHL to their hockey games,” a spokesperson for the Tigers wrote on Facebook.

“We will never forget the smile on your face as we left Allan after winning the Championship and got you to give ‘two honks for the Cup,’” they wrote.

The others killed include the junior hockey team’s captain Logan Schatz, defenceman Stephen Wack and forwards Jaxon Joseph and Logan Hunter.

Fourteen were injured in the crash. One has been released from hospital.

Team president Kevin Garinger said the hockey team will do everything in its power to get back on the ice in the future.

He said more than $3 million has been raised since the crash and Garinger said the money will go to the survivors and the families of the dead.

The intersection in east-central Saskatchewan where the crash happened reopened to traffic shortly before noon on Sunday. While the wreckage was gone, there were still playing cards and a broken DVD of the movie “Slap Shot” scattered in the ditch.

RCMP officers from Nipawin, Sask., stopped to lay flowers on behalf of the detachment. The Broncos had been on their way to Nipawin for a playoff game when the crash happened.

The Canadian Press

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