A lawsuit filed by the family of one of the victims in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash is providing a glimpse into the possible cause of the tragedy.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday by Russell Herold, his wife Raelene Herold, and on behalf of their son, Adam Herold’s, estate.
Adam was one of 16 people who died in the crash at the intersection of Highways 335 and 35. Thirteen others were hurt. Just shy of his 17th birthday, Adam was the youngest member of the team and had been called up to play for the Broncos from the Pat Canadians.
The suit is filed against the driver of the semi, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the trucking company employing Sidhu, Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., and the makers of the Broncos’ bus, John Doe Bus Manufacturer Ltd.
Singh Siddhu also made his first appearance in Melfort Provincial Court on Tuesday to face 29 criminal charges of dangerous driving, 16 causing death and 13 causing injury. At the time of the arrest, the RCMP would not answer questions about the cause of the crash, saying those details would come out in court.
The lawsuit claims Singh Sidhu wasn’t trained or skilled enough to be driving the semi – it says he only had two weeks of training and two weeks of experience before being sent on this new route.
The statement claims Singh Sidhu ignored the slower speed heading up to the intersection, as well as the flashing warning lights, and didn’t obey the stop sign – thereby putting his rig in the path of the Broncos’ bus.
The suit also claims the trucking company failed to train Singh Sidhu properly, and allowed him, without enough skill, to drive a route he had never taken before.
It also claims the bus the team was on was defective, causing the roof to pop off and detach when the crash happened.
None of the claims made in this statement have been proven in court, and as of Tuesday morning, no statement of defence had been filed.
In addition to painting a picture of what may have happened in the crash, the lawsuit also talks about Adam. It says he grew up on a farm outside Montmartre – which is about an hour southeast of Regina. He spent his time farming, playing hockey, hunting and gardening.
“Adam was very close to his family and his family was very close to Adam doing everything together,” reads the statement.
It says Adam had only played with the Broncos for eight games before the crash.
Adam was reportedly a very good player and the statement claims, if he hadn’t died, he could have played in the NHL and earned between $20 and $30 million over his career. It also says Adam would have taken over the family farm near Montmartre.
Lawsuit seeks damages, declarations
The lawsuit is asking for damages to pay hospital and medical expenses, funeral expenses, and to pay for the time Russell and Raelene have been, and will continue to be, off work because of Adam’s death.
It’s also asking for punitive damages of $30,000 or whatever the law will allow for their grief and loss.
The suit says the actions of Singh Sidhu and Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. were “reprehensible, reckless, malicious, high-handed and demonstrated such a lack of disregard for the health, safety and rights of the Humboldt Broncos and their parents, siblings and family members that the Plaintiffs claim punitive damages.”
The suit also asks for a declaration from the court that The Automobile Accident Insurance Act and the Fatal Accidents Act don’t address the compensation required in a crash like this well enough.
The suit claims the sightlines at the intersection are insufficient and not in accordance with the provincial government’s regulations. So, it’s asking the court to deem that intersection unsafe and that the sightlines for vehicles heading north on Highway 35 aren’t safe either.
The suit also requests declarations that:
- All coach buses carrying sports teams in the province be equipped with shoulder harness seatbelts along with other safety devices like early warning systems
- The roof of the bus either wasn’t designed or made to stay on in the event of a crash
- And that all semi drivers in Saskatchewan need to pass strict safety tests before being allowed to haul two “Super B Trailers”