‘To keep his name alive:’ Families honour those who died in Broncos bus crash

Sixteen people were killed and 13 other hockey players were injured one year ago today in Saskatchewan

Families of those who died in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash say scholarships, events and places named in their honour helps keep their memories alive.

Sixteen people — including 10 players and the head coach — were killed and 13 players were injured one year ago when the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi collided at a rural intersection in Saskatchewan.

THE 13 SURVIVORS: Healing slow to come for some after Humboldt crash

Dozens of bursaries and scholarships have been created in memory of those killed. Their names are also attached to arenas, dressing rooms, playgrounds and even a snowmobile shack.

Scott Thomas of Saskatoon, who lost his son Evan, said the memorials are an important part of grieving.

A tattered flag waves in the wind in honour of the victims of the April 6, 2018 bus crash that took the lives of 16 and injured 13, in Humboldt, Sask., Sunday, March 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matt Smith

“It means the world to our family,” he said. “It’s just a way to keep his name alive, if you will. To us, it’s a statement about the impact that he had in those communities in the short amount of time that he was here on this Earth.”

Thomas said some of the honours are related to the size and scope of the tragedy that hit the hockey team.

“On the other hand, I think a lot of it is just about Evan. He affected a lot of people. He was just a good kid.”

Many parents said they have been inundated with support from their communities.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” said Carol Brons of Lake Lenore, Sask. Her daughter, Dayna, the team’s athletic therapist, was killed.

“When she passed away, we knew we wanted to set up something … to help.”

A flag waves outside a home in honour of the victims of the April 6, 2018 bus crash that took the lives of 16 and injured 13, in Humboldt, Sask., Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Matt Smith/The Canadian Press)

They directed money to the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon and Mount Royal University in Calgary in the weeks after she died.

Since then, Brons said, there have also been bursaries created at the University of Regina and through the CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders. “It’s a way to give somebody else an opportunity to do what they want to do.”

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Several families have also created memorial trusts and foundations as a way to give back to the community.

“You’re trying to keep Adam’s memory alive and let people know the person he was,” said Russell Herold of Montmartre, Sask., whose family created the Adam Herold Memorial Foundation.

“He would have done a lot of good things in his life if he would have had the opportunity. In some regards, we’re doing some of the things he would have done for others.”

The foundation’s goal is to provide opportunities to Saskatchewan youth to develop and refine hockey and leadership skills. It will provide top trainers for skill development, physical and mental training, coaching development and ongoing support for hockey programs in rural communities.

#HUMBOLDTSTRONG number stickers remain a common sight in Humboldt, Sask. on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Matt Smith/The Canadian Press)

Thomas, whose family has created a memorial trust in Evan’s name, said they will hold events such as a memorial hockey day on April 13 and a baseball tournament in June.

“We’ve gotten so much,” he said in an interview last week. “As much as something was taken away from us, we still get letters in the mail every week. We opened the mailbox the other day and had a letter from someone in Halifax. We opened a letter yesterday from a gentleman in Saskatoon who sent a $20 cheque for Evan’s memorial trust.”

When he was travelling through the Calgary airport in March, a waitress serving him saw him watching news coverage of the truck driver’s sentencing.

“She said, ‘I recognize you. You’re a Broncos dad.’ And she wouldn’t let me pay for the meal,” said Thomas. ”She started crying. That’s how much this tragedy has affected people, so anything we can do to give back.”

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

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