Red Deer Count Mayor Jim Wood and Red Deer City Mayor Tara Veer welcomed former NHLer Laurie Boschman, part of Hockey Ministries International, who was the keynote speaker at Central Alberta Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast held Tuesday morning at Westerner Park. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

UPDATED: Central Albertans gather at Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast

Humboldt families remembered in prayers

Prayers went out to families of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy Tuesday morning at the Central Alberta Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

“Whether you’re in ringette or baseball or swimming, or whatever it is, at some point we put our kids on buses and you expect that they’re going to make it to their destination,” said Laurie Boschman after speaking to the crowd of about 450 people at Westerner Park.

He said young hockey players travelling in winter weather may not think about that, but as people get older they recognize there are a lot of things that can happen.

“Certainly people think about those things at times like this.”

Fifteen 15 people died and 14 injured in Friday’s crash when the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior team to Nipawin collided with a semi truck carrying peat moss at an intersection north of Tisdale, about 200 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.

The former NHLer said a similar tragedy could have happened to him during his time playing in Western Hockey League while riding buses across the prairies and through the mountains.

“I thought of our bus driver and the head bob and how we’d go and talk to him at the front and take turns doing that. How one bus driver drove over 12 hours at a time. You’d never get away with it today. But it could have happened to us.”

Boschman, who grew up in Saskatchewan, said he thought about the Humboldt families when he first heard about the crash.

“They’d be utterly devastated and shocked. That’s what happens first off. You can’t believe that you’ve got that call. I thought of how you make sense of something so unspeakable.”

He said loved ones and family members will have gathered around those affected and that’s the way it should be. But in the weeks and months ahead it’s going to be difficult as their support systems eventually have to go back to work and look after their own families. That’s when a sense of the magnitude about everything that’s happened may come crashing down upon them. There are also Bronco players who may be in hospital for a long time, including two facing paralysis and three still in medically induced comas.

“There’s still an awful lot to this story and an awful lot of hurting.”

Boschman, who was open about his Christian faith as a player and is a member of Hockey Ministries International, said he wanted to point people to the hope that can be found in the pages of scripture.

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said when tragedy occurs people will try to make sense of it, but often it’s senseless. But they can find hope in pulling together as a community, as a country.

“Certainly we’re a nation in mourning. There are so many connection points to this tragedy. Today was an opportunity for our community to commemorate the lives lost and the victims of the Humboldt Broncos accident,” Veer said.

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