A truck drives by the welcome sign honouring the members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada, Saturday, April 7, 2018. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press via AP)

‘Heroes to many:’ Support offered to Humboldt students after bus crash kills 15

Classes resumed Tuesday but Garinger says the focus will be on the well-being of students and staff

Attention in the Saskatchewan town where 15 members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team were killed in a bus crash is turning to supporting students as they return to school without some of their classmates.

Kevin Garinger, director of education for the Horizon School Division and president of the Broncos, said schools were closed Monday after the junior hockey team’s bus collided with a semi truck northeast of Saskatoon on Friday.

Classes resumed Tuesday but Garinger says the focus will be on the well-being of students and staff rather than the daily curriculum.

Five of the junior hockey players were students and three others were former students, he said. Some teachers and staff even billeted the players, he said.

“These were our kids,” Garinger said, choking back tears. “These athletes are and were heroes to many and, in them, our students see shining examples of the young adults and athletes they’re dreaming of growing up to be.”

He says a crisis response team is in place and counselling is being offered to anyone who needs it.

“In the days to come, our students will require a great deal of support and love to cope with this loss,” Garinger said. “None of us are alone.”

READ: Giants hockey chaplain helps community grieve after Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The school division will continually assess the needs of the community and shift the focus accordingly.

“We haven’t determined how long these supports will need to be here,” said Greg Chatlin, director of education for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. “I do anticipate that we will need to be present for quite some time.

“The gravity of the wounds varies from student to student. Some have lost a local hero. Some have lost a classmate, a friend, a neighbour, while closer still, some have lost a brother, a son or a father.”

READ: Cowichan Valley coaches reflect on Humboldt bus crash

The Broncos junior team was heading to Nipawin on Friday when the crash occurred at an intersection north of Tisdale, Sask. RCMP say 15 people died in the crash and 14 were injured.

As of Monday, two people had been released from hospital and, of the dozen that remained, four were listed in critical condition.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice apologized Monday after authorities mixed up the identities of one of the deceased and one of the survivors in the crash.

The coroner’s office mistook the body of 18-year-old goalie Parker Tobin for that of Xavier Labelle. Labelle is injured but alive, and Tobin is among those who died. Both families have asked for privacy while they are “grieving together.”

Premier Scott Moe apologized for the mix-up Tuesday and said the province will take whatever recommendations come out of the various reviews and investigations taking place.

“I don’t know how you could ever prepare for something of this proportion, of this scope of this accident, the severity of this accident and I apologize unreservedly for what happened.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


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