Fourteen people were killed after a tractor-trailer collided with a bus carrying a Canadian Junior League hockey team, police said late Friday.
The accident occurred around 5 p.m. on Highway 355 in Gronlid, Saskatchewan, just 36 miles away from Nipawan, where the Humboldt Broncos were scheduled to play Game 5 of a playoff series.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed early Saturday that 14 people were killed on the bus. The remaining 14 were hospitalized, with three in critical condition.
Darren Opp, of the Nipawin Hawks hockey team, said a semi T-boned the players’ bus and a photo from the wreckage appears to show one of the vehicles on its side.
“Our whole community is in shock,” said Kevin Garinger, president of the Humboldt Broncos team.
Parents from across Western Canada are rushing to the scene as they await news of their loved ones’ condition.
Pastor Jordan Gadsby at the Apostolic Church in Nipawin said more than a hundred people gathered at the church.
“Some of them are waiting to hear if their kids are alive,” he said.
“They are sitting in the church just waiting to hear any good news,” Opp said. “There’s uncles and moms and dads waiting to hear whether their sons and nephews are OK.”
Kevin Henry, a coach who runs a hockey school in Prince Albert, said people are in shock. “This is I would think one of the darkest days in the history of Saskatchewan, especially because hockey is so ingrained in how we grow up here.”
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is a Junior ‘A’ hockey league under Hockey Canada, which is part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. It’s open to North American-born players between the ages of 16 and 20.
“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,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.