Calgary truck driver pleads guilty to charges in Humboldt Broncos bus crash
Published Tuesday, January 8, 2019 8:50AM MST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 8, 2019 6:58PM MST
Jaskirat Sidhu, the driver of a transport truck involved in a deadly crash with the Humboldt Broncos' team bus last April, has pleaded guilty to all 29 counts of dangerous driving.
Sidhu appeared in a court in Melfort, Sask., on Tuesday morning.
On April 6, 2018, the Humboldt Broncos’ team bus and a transport truck collided on a Saskatchewan highway killing 16 people and injuring 13 others.
Sidhu was charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
During the three-month investigation, police took over 6000 photographs and used 3D technology to gather evidence from the scene.
Sidhu was not injured in the crash and was released on bail with conditions last July.
He pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him and his lawyer, Mark Brayford, told reporters that his client wanted to plead guilty to avoid further delay.
“His position to me was, I just want to plead guilty, I don’t want you to plea bargain, I don’t want a trial. Mr Sidhu advised me, I don’t want to make things any worse. I can’t make things any better but I certainly don’t want to make them any worse by having a trial,” said Brayford from outside of court.
Brayford said Sidhu wanted the families of the victims to know that he is ‘devastated’ by the grief he has caused them and is humbled by the support he has received from the community.
“He’s overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and kindness that some of the families and players have expressed to him in spite of the fact that their grief is entirely his fault and he’s very sorry about that,” said Brayford.
The Humboldt Broncos released a statement following the guilty pleas thanking Sidhu for ‘taking responsibility’ and for eliminating the need for a trial.
“Mr. Sidhu’s guilty pleas are a positive step in the healing process for the survivors, grieving families, the team and our community. I commend Mr. Sidhu for taking responsibility for his actions and sparing the survivors and the families the anguish and turmoil of rehashing this tragedy in court,” said Humboldt Bronco’s President Jamie Brockman in the statement. “I know Mr. Sidhu has also been deeply affected by this tragedy. His careless actions will haunt him for the rest of his life, and I’m sure it is a relief to move forward.”
Evan Thomas was killed in the crash and his father Scott was in court on Tuesday.
“When he said guilty to me, I have my closure. If he spends a day, if he spends 10 years, time is irrelevant. He was guilty, he acknowledged that, that’s all I needed to hear,” said Thomas.
The crash left Broncos’ defenceman, Ryan Straschnitzki, paralyzed from the chest down and his mother Michelle says the guilty pleas are a good step.
“We’re grateful that it’s not going to be dragged out, a long process. Hopefully everybody can start to heal a little bit, and I mean everybody but it’s not over for us, it’s not over for anybody,” she said. “I’m grateful that he’s taking responsibility for his actions, it’s a start. And I don’t mean that to be, to make him the villain. I don’t believe in any universe that he is a villain, I think he’s probably just as devastated as all of us in many ways but I think that it will certainly lead to fundamental changes and I hope it will.”
The owner of the Calgary trucking company that hired Singh was also charged after the crash.
Sukhmander Singh of Adesh Deol Trucking is facing eight charges relating to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations. He is scheduled to be in court on February 4, 2019.
Sentencing for Jaskirat Sidhu is scheduled for January 28 in Melfort.