HUMBOLDT, Sask. – “Dear Saskatchewan Truck Driver.” So begins a note penned to the driver of the truck involved in a tragic collision that took the lives of 16 people in rural Saskatchewan, April 6.
The collision involved a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos, a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team on their way to a playoff game in Nipawin, Sask., killing 16 passengers and sending 13 more to hospital with injuries.
The truck driver was briefly detained at the scene but walked away with no reported physical injuries.
The letter offering support for the driver first appeared on the social media platform Reddit on April 8, posted by user bonnepatate, and then was adapted for Facebook by Deanna Cummings, where it’s been shared more than 138,000 times and had been flooded with comments from users showing support and sharing stories.
The Facebook post reads:
“Dear Saskatchewan Truck Driver,
As we all sit back and contemplate everything that has occurred since the collision and start to process the massive emotional impact of the death of 15 people, I want you to know you are in our minds too. Please know that some of us are thinking of you as well.
Although the exact cause of the collision and the events leading up to it remain unknown to us, we do know that you didn’t set out to do harm as you turned the ignition that fateful day.
You survived. You need help to overcome this tragic incident that is also taking a significant toll on your and your family’s wellbeing. I sincerely hope you will be able to heal, and I know that other Canadians wish the same.
From the heart,
A fellow Canadian.”
Cummings, a university student and Edmonton native, said she hoped that in sharing it eventually the driver and his family would see the words and know people hadn’t turned their backs on them.
“In times of tragedy people are so quick to point fingers, but we must remember that he was just working,” she said. “The accident could have happened to anyone. If it was me, I would be feeling so immensely guilty, and I hope that my post shows him that he is not alone and that Canadians are standing beside him.”
Cummings says the responses she’s received have been overwhelming, with messages pouring in from across Canada, and even from other countries.
“It’s actually quite humbling. I have received hundreds of messages from people around the world, including those who have children in hockey. Even more – I have received messages from individuals who are truckers or have truckers in their families. Those messages hit home the most for me.”
Responses of support for the driver from those who have lost loved ones in similar incidents have touched Cummings the most. She has also heard from friends of the driver’s family who promised to share the messages of support with them.
Both the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) have released statements expressing their condolences for the families of the victims.
“Like all Canadians, the tragic events this past weekend in Saskatchewan have had an emotional impact on the families that make up our industry,” read the CTA statement. “The entire trucking industry sends its condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones travelling to play in a game that defines what we are as Canadians. We also continue to pray for the injured who remain in the hospital.”
In an interview with Truck West, STA board chairman Reg Quiring said that the tragedy struck close to home with every member who are all a part of small town Saskatchewan, and that now is the time to focus on the first responders, hospital staff, and volunteer rescue personnel, calling them “Saskatchewan’s heroes.”
The RCMP are still investigating the crash and no charges have yet been laid.
This post has been updated from an earlier version to reflect the recent passing of team trainer Dayna Brons.
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