EDMONTON — A memorial is underway for four players with the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team who called the Edmonton area home.
Jaxon Joseph of Edmonton, Parker Tobin of Stony Plain, and Logan Hunter and Stephen Wack — both of St. Albert — were among 16 people who died after a transport truck and the Saskatchewan team’s bus collided on April 6.
The Broncos were travelling to a playoff game when the crash occurred at a rural Saskatchewan intersection.
Ten funerals have already been held for crash victims in communities across Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Hundreds walked by the iconic Wayne Gretzky statue Tuesday into Rogers Place, the building’s ticker sign reading HumboldtStrong.
A mini stick was left at the bottom of the statue, with untilnextime HumboldtStrong and NeverForgotten, and a goalie stick was left at an entry.
Police cars escorted the funeral procession with four hearses through busy downtown traffic to the arena. Teens showed up in hockey jerseys and police officers, firefighters and military members were in uniform.
Rogers Place is home ice for the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL.
Joseph’s father, Chris Joseph, was a defenceman with several NHL teams, including the Oilers.
“Jaxon spent his life doing what he loved, playing hockey,” said the 20-year-old’s obituary. “Hockey has always been a huge part of his life.”
“Jaxon’s big heart, his charming smile and his warm, loving personality touched many and left lasting impressions.”
Tobin, 18, was in his first season with the Broncos as a goalie after being traded from the Spruce Grove Saints in Alberta.
It was initially believed he was alive and recovering in hospital, but the coroner’s office later said it had made a mistake and Tobin had died in the crash.
His obituary said Tobin was kind and gentle, had a passion for learning and possessed endless optimism.
“After the flowers wilt and ribbons fade, we will remember his terrific sense of humour and his desire to make people happy,” it said.
Hunter, also 18, liked a good joke and often teased his older sister and younger billet sisters, his obituary said.
“His big smile and little smirk will be remembered by all,” it said.
He had patience to talk with everyone and loved animals, especially the family dog Charlie, who was his best friend.
“His lifelong dream was achieved when the scout for the Humboldt Broncos signed him based on his outstanding ability and character.”
Wack, 21, had a passion for videography and was on the honour roll each year in high school.
“He was a compassionate human being, never forgetting the underdog,” his obituary said. “Stephen had a very strong faith, and we know that our big guy is now with the Big Guy.”
Thirteen others were injured in the crash and several remain in hospital.