“Devastated” Truck Driver Pleads Guilty To All Counts In Horrific Humboldt Broncos Crash
Melfort, Saskatchewan – On Tuesday, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver facing 29 counts of dangerous driving in connection to the April 2018 accident which claimed the lives of 16 junior hockey team members and injured 13 others, pleaded guilty on all counts.
“I plead guilty, your honor,” Sidhu said as he stood before a judge in Melfort, Saskatchewan, according to the Toronto Star. The fatal accident happened in April of last year as the Humboldt Broncos — a team of 16- to 21-year-olds — were on their way to a playoff game in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
Their team bus was struck by Sidhu’s semi in rural Saskatchewan. After a lengthy investigation of the crash scene, Sidhu was charged and arrested in July. The guilty pleas will eliminate a lengthy and expensive trial.
In a statement Broncos president Jamie Brockman said, “I commend Mr. Sidhu for taking responsibility for his actions and sparing the survivors and the families the anguish and turmoil of rehashing this tragedy in court.”
Sidhu’s lawyer, Mark Brayford, told reporters, “Mr. Sidhu advised me: ‘I don’t want to make things any worse. I can’t make things any better, but I certainly don’t want to make them worse by having a trial.’”
Brayford also characterized Sidhu as being “devastated,” and “”overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and kindness that some of the families and players have expressed to him, in spite of the fact that grief is entirely his fault.”
This tragedy became an international story gaining media attention from some of the biggest news outlets in the world. It captivated many evidenced by the fact a GoFundMe campaign raised in excess of $15 million. The funds will be disbursed among the 29 families affected.
About The Investigation
Sidhu’s big rig collided with the team bus at an intersection which had a stop sign posted from Sidhu’s direction. However, the safety review found that a crop of trees on private property affected sight lines in the directions that Sidhu and the bus were traveling. The report of the review suggested having the trees removed and posting more and larger stop signs to warn drivers of the intersection earlier.
The intersection where the accident occurred has a history of accidents. The Canadian Press reported that there had been at least six collisions at that intersection between 1990 and 2017, and one that happened in 1997 resulted in the deaths of six people.
Accident Prompts New Mandatory CDL Training
In response to the Humboldt Broncos crash, the Saskatchewan government announced in December it was introducing mandatory training for semi-truck drivers. Starting in March 2019, drivers seeking a Class 1 commercial licence will be required to undergo at least 121.5 hours of training.
The new program requires drivers to undergo instruction for 47 hours in a classroom, 17.5 hours in a yard and 57 hours behind the wheel. Drivers must also be monitored for a 12-month period following the acquisition of their CDL.
Previously, training was not mandatory, but Saskatchewan Government Insurance accredited driving schools.
Image shared courtesy of Global Saskatoon