Humboldt Broncos bus crash: Truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu gets 8 years in prison

Jaskirat Sidhu TV screengrab
Jaskirat Sidhu
TV screengrab

JUSTICE Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver in the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash, in a Melfort, Saskatchewan courtroom on Friday to eight years in prison.

The crash killed 16 people and injured 13 others on April 6, 2018, when Sidhu’s semi-trailer truck failed to stop at a highway intersection. The bus was carrying the Broncos junior hockey team and others to a playoff game.

Sidhu received eight years in prison for each count of dangerous driving causing death, and five years for each dangerous driving causing bodily harm charge. But the sentences will be served concurrently.

Crown had recommended 10 years in prison for Sidhu, while the defence had suggested 14 months to four-and-a-half years. There had never been such a case before in Canada.

 

BACK in January, Sidhu said in his statement in court: “I can’t imagine what you guys are going through, what you have been through. I’ve taken the most valuable things of your life…. I was on the side of the road with the outside window, outside door above me. I came up from the truck and I heard the kids crying. At that time, I started to think, ‘What has happened?’ It took me time to see or realize that it’s a bus. I take full responsibility of what has happened. It happened because of my lack of experience and I’m so, so, so, so, so sorry for this day.”

According to Canadian Press, a few months after the crash, the federal government changed the Criminal Code, increasing the maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death from 14 years to life in prison. It also increased the maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing bodily harm from 10 years to 14 years. The Crown noted Sidhu must be sentenced under the previous law.

Sidhu’s lawyer said that any sentence over six months would likely mean his client, who is not a Canadian citizen, will be deported.

 

IN January, CBC reported that an April 20 Saskatchewan government report filed during Singh’s sentencing hearing in Melfort, Saskatchewan, stated: “If Jaskirat Singh Sidhu had been stopped and inspected on April 6, 2018 prior to the incident, he would have been placed under a 72-hour out of service declaration … preventing him from operating a commercial vehicle.”

The report, signed by two senior enforcement officers in the provincial government’s Ministry of Highways, figured in the appendix of the RCMP’s Forensic Collision Reconstruction Report.

Sidhu was not drunk, high or speeding. Also, he was not using a cellphone at the time of the crash.He did not touch his brakes, despite multiple road signs and a 1.5-metre wide stop sign containing a functioning, flashing light at the intersection, CBC reported.

The dozens of violations mostly involve missing data in Sidhu’s driver log book. Regulators track these log entries in part to prevent drivers from working when excessively fatigued or sleepy, according to the CBC.

Sidhu failed to account for time on and off the job, to account for the city or province where he spent each shift, and to document whether the vehicle had any defects. On some entries, he’d sign off on a completed work day before starting to drive. On days such as March 30 and 31, the log book is completely missing, the CBC reported.

There are “strong concerns” about the documentation for April 6, inspectors said in the report.

The report questioned, among other things, Sidhu’s log book entry showing he took five hours off duty in the middle of his work day April 6, just two hours before the crash occurred.

Sukhmander Singh, owner and director of Calgary-based Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd for whom Sidhu was working at the time of the crash, faces eight counts of failing to comply with various safety and log-keeping regulations, according to the CBC report.