MONTMARTRE, Sask. — The parents of the youngest Humboldt Broncos player killed in a highway crash say they’ve filed a lawsuit because they want changes to provincial and federal laws.
Russell and Raelene Herold of Montmartre, Sask., filed a statement of claim on Monday in Regina court on behalf of their 16-year-old son Adam.
In a statement issued Wednesday, they said their lives have changed forever since their son’s death.
"Our family has been living minute to minute, trying to cope with the tragic loss of our beloved son, Adam," said the Herolds. "We think of Adam all day, every day. We are reminded of our loss everywhere we turn and we would do anything to go back in time to the way we were.
"Grief, worry, guilt, anxiety and loss have taken over our lives."
Sixteen people, including 10 players with the Broncos junior hockey team, were killed in rural Saskatchewan after their bus and a semi-truck collided April 6 north of Tisdale. Another 13 players were injured.
RCMP have charged the semi driver, 29-year-old Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily injury. Sidhu appeared in court Tuesday and was released on $1,000 bail with conditions that he not drive and that he surrender his passport.
The Herolds said they’re pleased the court process has started, but said they filed the lawsuit because they have broader concerns they believe need to be addressed.
Those concerns include licensing and truck safety for inexperienced drivers, highway safety throughout Canada and bus safety for passengers. They also said changes are needed in Saskatchewan laws to allow victims and their families to pursue full compensation against those responsible.
"We know that a change in laws won’t bring Adam or the other 15 lives lost back to their families where they belong, but we believe these changes are the right thing to do."
Their lawsuit alleges that Sidhu had inadequate training and failed to stop at a flashing stop sign at a rural intersection where trees partially obstructed the view of traffic.
It further alleges the roof of the Broncos bus was not designed to withstand the crash and that the bus should have been equipped with seatbelts.
None of the allegations has been proven in court and a statement of defence has not yet been filed.
The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages as well as court orders, including one which would declare that all buses carrying sports teams in Saskatchewan be equipped with seatbelts and other safety devices.
It is also asking the court to declare the intersection unsafe and for semi drivers to pass strict safety tests before they can haul Super B trailers in Saskatchewan — the same kind Sidhu was pulling.
Both Saskatchewan and Alberta governments have said they are working on ways to improve truck safety that include more driver training. Alberta released some of its improved measures on Tuesday.
— By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton