SEMI-TRAILER unit driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu of Calgary on Tuesday pleaded guilty to all charges against him in a Saskatchewan court in Melfort in connection to the crash with the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team’s bus at a rural Saskatchewan intersection on April 6.
The crash left 16 players and staff dead and 13 others injured. The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game when the crash occurred. Sidhu was charged with 16 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and 13 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm.
Sidhu, who was working for Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., a two-truck company operating out of a home in northeast Calgary, was not hurt.
The bus had the right of way. There is a flashing stop sign for drivers on Highway 335 at Highway 35 between Nipawin and Tisdale. The RCMP said the semi was in the intersection when the bus crashed into it, according to the CBC.
Sidhu had worked for the trucking company for one month prior to the fatal collision, according to owner Sukhmander Singh. Singh said Sidhu trained with him for two weeks and was driving on his own for two more weeks before the crash.
Ten members of the Broncos died. The six other deaths included the bus driver, an athletic therapist, the head coach, assistant coach and two employees of Humboldt’s FM radio station, the CBC reported at the time.
The owner of Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., Sukhmander Singh, faces eight charges relating to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations.
Sidhu’s lawyer, Mark Brayford, told the media outside court that his client just wanted to plead guilty and did not want to plea bargain or have a trial.
Brayford said that Sidhu wanted the families to know that he’s devastated by the grief he’s caused them.
According to CBC, they obtained a document based largely on the RCMP “Forensic Collision Reconstruction Report” that states Sidhu drove into the intersection at a speed of 86 to 96 km/h in spite of a 1.2-metre-wide (four feet) stop sign with a red flashing light on top. Also, there were clearly marked highway signs warning of an intersection from approximately 400 metres, 300 metres, 200 metres and 100 metres away.
CBC said that the statement showed that as Sidhu approached the intersection on Highway 335, the driver of the Broncos bus travelling down the larger Highway 35 recognized the danger and applied the brakes, skidding for 24 metres before the collision. The bus “T-boned” the semi, sending it into the ditch. The report said the bus driver did not contribute to the collision.
The sentencing is to begin on January 28, according to Canadian Press. The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years. It’s 10 years for dangerous driving causing bodily harm.