Canadian police say 15 people have been killed and and another 13 injured after a truck collided with a bus carrying a junior ice hockey team to a playoff game in Western Canada.
Police say there were 28 people, including the driver, on board the bus of the Humboldt Broncos team when the crash occurred around 5pm Friday on Highway 35 in Saskatchewan.
“We can now confirm fourteen people have died as a result of this collision,” The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a release early on Saturday.
“The other fourteen people were sent to hospitals with a variety of injuries; three of these people have injuries that are critical in nature.”
No names were released, and police would not say whether players or coaches were among the dead. There was no mention of the truck driver.
The team president said parents from across Western Canada were rushing to the scene as they struggled to cope with the tragedy.
“It’s one of the hardest days of my life,” said Kevin Garinger.
“There have been multiple fatalities – our whole community is in shock, we are grieving and we will continue to grieve throughout this ordeal as we try to work toward supporting each other.”
The junior team was on its way to play in Game 5 of a semi-final against the Nipawin Hawks.
Darren Opp, president of the Hawks, said a semi T-boned the players’ bus.
“It’s a horrible accident, my God,” he said. “It’s very, very bad.”
Opp said the coaching staff and players from the Hawks were waiting to help.
“They are sitting in the church just waiting to hear any good news,” he said. “I’ve got 50 phone calls at least saying ‘what do you want?’
“There’s uncles and moms and dads waiting to hear whether their sons and nephews are OK.
“It’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible.”
Garinger described the Broncos as a close-knit team from the small city of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, which has a population of about 6,000.
“We don’t know who has passed and we don’t expect to know right away,” he said.
“We know that the coroner and their office needs to do their work and let families know.”
Garinger said all the team can do now is help the players and their families any way they can.
The news sent shockwaves through hockey-mad Canada, with condolences pouring in from former hockey players, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others.
“I cannot imagine what these parents are going through, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, in the Humboldt community and beyond,” Trudeau wrote in a tweet.