Victims of Humboldt Broncos crash may soon get interim payments

Flowers lie at centre ice as people gather for a vigil at the Elgar Petersen Arena, home of the Humboldt Broncos, to honour the victims of a fatal bus accident in Humboldt, Sask. on Sunday, April 8, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

SASKATOON — The victims of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus crash may soon get interim payments from a fundraising campaign that has collected $15.2 million.

The non-profit group that administers the fund is asking the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench to approve initial payments of $50,000 each to the 13 survivors and families of the 16 people who died.

An affidavit from Darren Duell, president of the Humboldt Broncos Memorial Fund Inc., says the families have had to deal with travel costs, time off work and other issues.

The affidavit says some families associated with players and staff of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team are in urgent need of funds.

The GoFundMe campaign was created immediately after the April 6 crash and received donations from across Canada and other countries.

The money has been transferred to the non-profit corporation and is expected to be distributed to victims in the coming months.

"Many of these families, surviving spouses and next of kin have experienced significant financial hardship as a result of the accident, including significant funeral expenses, travel costs, loss of income and in some cases loss of employment," the affidavit from Duell states.

"Such persons have informed me, and I believe it to be true, that they urgently require access to funds in order to meet the financial obligations imposed upon them by the accident, in order to pay bills … and to be able to continue to care for their families."

The interim payments would total less than 10 per cent of the money raised. A court hearing on the issue is scheduled for Aug. 13.

The court document also states that the non-profit group has received free professional services from its law firm, bank and accountants. GoFundMe has deducted roughly $483,000 from the money raised to cover 2.9 per cent payment processing fees.

The non-profit group is also asking the court to approve a five-member advisory board to help determine how all the money will eventually be divided.

Its proposed members are:

— Dennis Ball, a retired Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench judge.

— Mark Chipman, chairman of the group that owns the NHL Winnipeg Jets.

— Hayley Wickenheiser, former Canadian Olympic women’s hockey team gold medallist.

— Dr. Peter Spafford, head of neck and head surgery at the University of Saskatchewan.

— Kevin Cameron, executive director of the Canadian Centre For Threat Assessment And Trauma Response.

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