Note: Given the two-year anniversary was just a few days ago and the event is still an emotional one, I decided to re-run the column that I wrote two days after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. And maybe, thinking back to how everyone came together after this tragedy will help people who are dealing with the current crisis.
Enormity of tragic accident to be felt for decades
Everyone no doubt knows what occurred in our neighbouring province, which has indelibly marked April 6 in our minds.
I am writing this not simply to reflect upon the situation or to draw attention to the need of coming together for everyone’s sake, but also as part of my own process of dealing with the sorrow and grief that has overwhelmed me since that first social media post I saw that evening.
To put it bluntly, I felt a wave of emotions after reading that a crash took place at a rural Saskatchewan highway intersection that I know all too well.
There was shock of finding out a hockey club was involved that I not only used to referee, but also covered during my work as part of the Saskatchewan media.
My family and I also used to live in Humboldt then, nearby other northeast Saskatchewan communities, which added to the hurt as I remember several of the family names — both from hockey dealings and as part of the overall community.
As the evening progressed and into the next morning with more news coming to light, through social and news media plus from various personal contacts, the tears continued on and off as I thought about the victims, their families, the team, the citizens of Humboldt and the area hockey community.
I also couldn’t hold it in as the accident took me back to Dec. 30, 1986 as I had played against a couple of the four Swift Current Broncos that passed away that day.
I played for many years, continue to officiate and travelled with hockey clubs to provide media coverage, so I have ridden the bus and know the lifelong relationships that are made and how close the hockey community is as well as how close everyone is in Saskatchewan.
That said, there was also tremendous added emotion for me as a fellow first responder, especially considering that I know many of the area firefighters that were at the scene.
I used to be a member on one of the fire departments that was among those first to respond and know full well that many of them — along with the RCMP and EMS that were there — do their jobs in the first few hours, pushing any emotions and any outward response aside.
Yet, when that initial work is done and they either head home or have to sit at the scene for hours — such as in this case — the terrible things they witnessed will surface or they will try to suppress and internalize the emotions until such time as they feel it can be let loose.
Even today, as I write this, I can’t help but tear up as I think of the entirety of the accident, given all of my personal connections.
I also well up when I think about all of the first responders and what they must be battling — including the four different fire departments that were on scene, all of the dozens of RCMP personnel conducting the investigation, each of the EMS and STARS staff that assisted plus those that had to help with the recovery and clean up.
The vigil held in Humboldt, and in other places across the country, as well as the many observances from around the world are just one step in the process of dealing with what has taken place. The fact that there were so many memorial recognitions made and that more than $6.9 million has been raised via a GoFundMe page demonstrates the extent and how far reaching the affect the accident has had.
But, this kind of situation never leaves a person in spite of the passage of time. The only thing one can do is speak about it to someone close who will be understanding and caring or to a professional that can help.
And to anyone out there with a connection to this, please accept the thoughts and heartfelt feelings of me and my family during this time. And if possible, do something to help those people or anyone else.
But that is…just my observation. #humboltstrong