MELFORT, Sask. – A Saskatchewan court has heard that a semi-truck driver barrelled through an oversized stop sign with a flashing red light before the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
An agreed statement of facts says Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was going between 86 and 96 km/h when he drove into a rural intersection north of Tisdale last April.
The statement says the driver of the Broncos junior hockey team bus hit the brakes and the bus skidded for about 24 metres. It T-boned the truck at an impact of between 96 and 107 km/h.
Crown prosecutor Thomas Healey says there was no way the bus driver could have avoided the collision. The transport truck was fully in the intersection across all lanes of traffic.
“The driver of the bus recognized the hazard as quickly as possible,” Healey told the court Monday.
The statement says RCMP found no evidence that Sidhu had used drugs or alcohol or that he was distracted by a cellphone. The weather and road conditions were good.
The posted speed limit on both roads is 100 km/h.
Sixteen people were killed and 13 others on the bus were injured.
Sidhu, 30, pleaded guilty earlier this month to 29 counts of dangerous driving. He was hauling a load of peat moss when his rig and the Broncos bus collided.
Five days have been set aside for his sentencing hearing, which is expected to hear dozens of victim impact statements in a makeshift courtroom in Melfort, Sask. An event centre is being used to accommodate all the families, survivors and media.
Bernadine Boulet of Lethbridge, Alta., struggled through tears as she stood up to give the first statement. She said the death of her 21-year-old son, Logan, has left a constant ache in her chest.
Boulet noted her son wanted to become a teacher, like both his parents.
Now she won’t get to help him set up his first classroom, she said. And she’d give anything to have him come through the front door, flop on the couch and leave a dirty egg pan in the kitchen.
Toby Boulet said he’s trying to find peace in his consuming grief. He also said he doesn’t think the truck driver is an evil person. “I believe he feels tremendous remorse.”
A safety review done for the Saskatchewan government was released in December. It said sight lines at the intersection are a safety concern and recommended removing a stand of trees obstructing the view of drivers approaching from the south and east – the same directions the bus and semi-trailer were coming from when they collided.
The owner of the Calgary trucking company that hired Sidhu also faces eight counts related to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations in the months before the crash.
The Saskatchewan government has introduced mandatory training for semi-truck drivers which is to begin in March.