14 dead after Canadian junior hockey team bus crash

NIPAWIN, Saskatchewan (CBS News) — Fourteen people were killed and 15 others injured when a truck collided with a bus carrying a junior hockey team to a playoff game in western Canada, authorities said Saturday. The bus driving the Humboldt Broncos had 29 passengers, including the driver, when it crashed at about 5 p.m. Friday on Highway 35 in Saskatchewan, Canadian police said.

“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.

U.S. President Donald Trump also expressed condolences for the 14 people killed. Mr. Trump said in a tweet Saturday afternoon that he had spoken with Trudeau “to pay my highest respect and condolences” to relatives of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.

Mr. Trump concluded the tweet saying, “May God be with them all!”

The team president said parents from across Western Canada were rushing to the scene as they struggled to cope with the tragedy.

“It’s one of the hardest days of my life,” said Kevin Garinger. “There have been multiple fatalities — our whole community is in shock, we are grieving and we will continue to grieve throughout this ordeal as we try to work toward supporting each other.”

Among those killed was Jaxon Joseph, CBS News has confirmed. The captain of the team was also among those killed, the Associated Press reports. The father of Logan Schatz says his 20-year-old son had played for the Humboldt Broncos for the past four years and had been the team’s captain for two of those. Head coach Darcy Haugan was also among the 14 killed, the AP reported.

Michelle Straschnitzki, who lives in Airdrie, said her 18-year old son Ryan had been taken to a hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

“We talked to him, but he said he couldn’t feel his lower extremities so I don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “I am freaking out. I am so sad for all of the teammates and I am losing my mind.”

The team was on its way to play in Game 5 of a semi-final against the Nipawin Hawks. Their team list shows the players are aged between 16 and 21, the BBC reports.

Darren Opp, president of the Hawks, said a semi T-boned the players’ bus.

“It’s a horrible accident, my God,” he said. “It’s very, very bad.”

USA Hockey said in a tweet early Saturday it “sends its deepest condolences to the Humboldt Broncos, the families and the entire Humboldt community.”

“The hockey world is behind you,” it added.

Pastor Jordan Gadsby at the Apostolic Church in Nipawin said more than a hundred people had gathered at the church — including parents and grandparents of the players who were on the bus.

“Lots of them are waiting for information,” he said. “Some of the families have gotten information and have gone to be with their kids. Some of them are waiting to hear if their kids are alive.”

Garinger said the Broncos are a close-knit team from the small city of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, which has a population of about 6,000.

Garinger said he still didn’t know the fate of one of the players living in his home.

“We don’t know who has passed and we don’t expect to know right away,” he said. “We know that the coroner and their office needs to do their work and let families know.”

Garinger said all the team can do now is help the players and their families any way they can.

“We just need to try to support each other as we deal with this incredible loss to our community, to our province, to our hockey world.”

Kevin Henry, a coach who runs a hockey school in Prince Albert, said he knows players on the team.

“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,” he said.

STARS air ambulance said it sent three helicopters to the scene.

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.

Officials are expected to hold a press conference on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. You can watch it in the player above.

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