Humboldt anniversary a heartwrenching experience

This weekend has been an emotional one for Canadians — and especially those in Humboldt, Sask. as they mark the one-year anniversary of the collision between a semi-trailer and a bus carrying members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.

The April 6, 2018 crash claimed the lives of 16 people and injured 13, including Graysen Cameron of Olds.

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That accident forever changed the lives of hundreds of people: families, relatives and friends who lost loved ones as well those who were injured and their families, friends and relatives, along with the Humboldt Broncos organization, Humboldt residents, and the hockey community as a whole.

Three vertebrae in Cameron’s back had to be fused. As a result, his promising career as a hockey player was over.

So last spring, Cameron accepted a position as an assistant coach with the AAA midget Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. He played on that team from 2015 to 2017 before joining the Broncos.

The semi-driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu of Calgary, faced several charges as a result of the crash and was sentenced last month to eight years for dangerous driving causing death and bodily injury.

Farther out, it has left a deep emotional scar on Canadians and people around the world who were shocked and saddened by the tragedy.

Even I have been affected. I have little connection with the hockey community beyond being a fan, but it hurt me emotionally all the same, as a Canadian, a dad and simply as a human being.

A service was held in a Humboldt arena on Saturday marking the one-year anniversary of the accident and was broadcast on TV.

That was a hard ceremony to watch. The pain of those who spoke was gut-wrenching. And yet, there’s something cathartic about participating in it whatever way one can — even if only by watching it on a major network.

Some say some good has — and will — come from this tragedy. There’s evidence that’s true.

Sunday was Green Shirt Day, a day set aside to promote organ donation in honour of Logan Boulet of Lethbridge, who was killed in the crash. In response, Canadians from coast to coast to coast wore green t-shirts, or at least something green.

The summer before his death, Boulet had asked that his organs be donated if he passed away. And they were — improving the lives of six Canadians. That selfless example spurred hundreds of Canadians to register as organ donors as well.

The accident also spurred calls for changes to trucking rules, as evidence surfaced that Sidhu had very little training on driving semis before getting behind the wheel for a Calgary trucking company.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have all instituted mandatory entry-level truck driver training programs for commercial truck drivers, joining Ontario, which had that program in place earlier. Provincial transportation ministers have announced plans to have a national training standard in place by 2020.

Also, Transport Canada has announced plans to make seatbelts on new medium and large highway buses mandatory as of Sept. 1, 2020.

Those are indeed positive measures.

But unfortunately, nothing can ever fill the holes in the hearts of all those families and friends who lost loved ones in that accident or whose sons, relatives or friends were hurt as a result of it.

Their lives have been changed forever. They’ll feel that pain every day and each anniversary of the event, as they have this past year.

My heart goes out to them.

© Deloraine Times & Star

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