Her son Stephen died in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash five months ago — now Tricia Wack is calling on people across Canada to Buckle up for the Broncos while riding buses.
Wack published a special column in PostMedia newspapers across the country over the weekend calling for compulsory legislation to wear seatbelts on coach buses.
As she remembered her son for his smile, his heart and his creativity, she also addressed the safety issue of shoulder harness seatbelts on buses.
While the federal government has announced shoulder seatbelts will be included on new buses built after September 2020, Wack writes that is only a first step because seatbelts only save lives if they are worn.
“My son Stephen was killed in the Broncos bus crash when he was launched from his seat upon impact, smashing the back of his head and breaking his neck. Envision for a moment, if you will, that being your child or loved one.”
She points out that there were lap seatbelts on the Broncos bus, but none were worn.
“Following the results of the investigation into the crash, we were shocked to learn that there were, in fact, lap seatbelts on that bus. Seatbelts left unworn were rendered useless. While the crash scene depicts devastation, look more closely and you will see the majority of bus seats intact. What would the outcome have been if the team had been wearing shoulder harness seatbelts that day?”
Wack goes on to recount the lingering question she and her husband were left with during the aftermath of the crash.
“In the days following the crash, my husband and I asked ourselves ‘Why are we required to wear seatbelts in vehicles and on planes, but not on buses?’ I recall growing up before seatbelt laws were passed for cars, and the backseat with siblings was a free-for-all, driving our parents crazy. Eventually, laws were put into place making it compulsory to wear seatbelts in vehicles for a reason: seatbelts save lives.”
According to her research, Wack writes that coach bus passengers in the United Kingdom are legally required to wear seatbelts.
“I cannot say whether the wearing of seatbelts on the Broncos bus that day would have saved lives or limited injury of any of the 29 passengers. But what if a seatbelt had saved even one life? And what if that one life was your son. Your daughter. Your loved one.”
Wack also expressed her gratitude to the first responders on the scene and to investigators for their communication with families.
She went on to say that she forgives the semi driver now facing charges in the deadly crash.
“To Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, I say the following: I forgive you. Since Stephen’s death in the crash that day, I often ask myself ‘What would Stephen think, say or do?’ The answers often govern my actions. I can say with conviction that my son Stephen would forgive you. Stephen was a spiritual young man with a strong faith in God; he practised forgiveness with an open heart and was compassionate by nature.”
While she notes the charges are laid for a reason, Wack writes that her personal closure for the loss of her son does not depend on the outcome of the case.
“I continue to heal and grow through my grief.”
In the closing paragraph of her letter, Wack said she has felt the love and support coming from the nation united in the response to the Broncos bus crash.
“We have felt that; we have found healing and strength in that. And because of that, we now have a voice. I would like to use that voice to unite our nation in enacting positive change, so that the legacy of my son and those on the Broncos bus that fateful day will be carried forward. Let’s buckle up for the Broncos.”
— With files from PostMedia