A memorialat the site of a fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team sits at the intersection of highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Sask., on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. The Saskatchewan government is trying to be removed from a lawsuit brought by a number of the victims' families. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

‘An insult to the families:’ Saskatchewan government wants out of Broncos lawsuit

‘An insult to the families:’ Saskatchewan government wants out of Broncos lawsuit

REGINA — Lawyers for the Saskatchewan government are to be in a Regina courtroom Wednesday to ask a judge to remove the province from a lawsuit filed by families of victims of the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

But lawyers for the hockey families argue the province should accept responsibility for chronic inaction at the rural intersection where the crash happened in April 2018.

Sixteen people were killed and 13 others were seriously injured when the junior hockey team’s bus was hit by a semi-trailer after the driver blew though a stop sign north of Tisdale, Sask. The inexperienced trucker, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving.

Among several lawsuits filed after the crash is one by the families of four players and an assistant coach who died. The families are suing Sidhu, the Calgary-based company that employed him, the bus company and the Saskatchewan government.

In its court notice, the government asks to be struck from the lawsuit because the province has no-fault insurance. That means a person receives comprehensive benefits no matter who’s responsible for a collision, but the right to sue for pain and suffering is limited.

“No person has any right of action respecting, arising out of or stemming from bodily injuries caused by a motor vehicle arising out of an accident,” reads the notice signed by deputy justice minister Michael Morris.

“Section 40.1 (of the Automobile Accident Insurance Act) extinguishes any right of action which may have otherwise been available to the plaintiffs.”

Regina lawyers Sharon Fox and Kevin Mellor represent the families of Adam Herold, 16, of Monmartre, Sask.; Jaxon Joseph, 20, of St. Albert, Alta.; Logan Hunter, 18, also of St. Albert; Jacob Leicht, 19, of Humboldt; and Mark Cross, 27, from Strasbourg, Sask.

“It’s an insult to the families,” Fox said in a phone interview. “I find it insulting that the government, rather than stepping up and doing the right thing, is continually trying to get out from underneath the very problem that they caused.

“They were amply warned by people who have experience, people who are civil engineers, who are trained and know how to construct and maintain highways.”

Mellor said the intersection at highways 35 and 335 was identified as being dangerous in 1997, after a family of six from Dawson Creek, B.C., including a five-week-old, died after their vehicle was hit by a semi-trailer.

“The trouble with the Saskatchewan government is this really goes back to when the NDP government was in power and they just chose to do nothing about it,” he said.

Fox and Mellor said there were recommendations from the RCMP, a coroner’s inquest, and local politicians and engineers at the time who called for the intersection to be changed.

The recommendations included putting rumble strips on the highway, removing a large stand of trees that blocked sight lines and improving signage.

A large stop sign was added after the 1997 accident, the lawyers said. Rumble strips were added and the trees were cut back slightly following the Broncos crash.

“Our focus is the government of Saskatchewan for the sight lines at that intersection and their gross negligence in letting that intersection go,” said Chris Joseph, whose son died.

“This will be a big day for us in court.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 3, 2020

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary

The Canadian Press

Humboldt Broncos

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Man killed in two-vehicle collision near Penhold, says Blackfalds RCMP

A 46-year-old man is dead following a two-vehicle collision on Highway 42… Continue reading

(Photo by Paul Cowley/ Advocate Staff)
Mask bylaws not popular in rural areas

Red Deer and Blackfalds bylaws requiring masks in public places kick in on Monday

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Innisfail RCMP arrest man following ‘lengthy pursuit’

Innisfail RCMP say a “lengthy pursuit” through a rural area ended with… Continue reading

hay
Hay’s Daze: Giraffe knows filling wishes can sometimes be a tall order

Last weekend, I had a lovely breakfast. “So what?” you may say.… Continue reading

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says tonight's public video gaming session with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is about reaching young people where they hang. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP leader stoked over ‘epic crossover’ in video gaming sesh with AOC

Singh and AOC discussed importance of universal pharmacare, political civility, a living wage

A south view of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf breaking apart is seen from Ward Hunt Island, Nunavut, in an Aug. 20, 2011, handout photo. The remote area in the northern reach of the Nunavut Territory, has seen ice cover shrink from over 4 metres thick in the 1950s to complete loss, according to scientists, during recent years of record warming. Scientists are urging the federal government to permanently protect a vast stretch of Canada's remotest High Arctic called the Last Ice Area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CEN/Laval University, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Scientists urge permanent protection of Last Ice Area in Canada’s High Arctic

Tuvaijuittuq has the thickest and oldest ice in the Arctic

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $55 million Lotto Max jackpot

No winning ticket was sold for the $55 million jackpot in Friday… Continue reading

In this Friday, March 13, 2020, photo, Nic Talbott looks up from his computer at his home in Lisbon, Ohio. Talbott was participating in an Army ROTC program after an Obama administration policy permitted transgender people already serving in the military to be allowed to do so openly. As vice president in 2012, Joe Biden endeared himself to many LGBTQ Americans by endorsing same-sex marriage even before Obama. Now, as president-elect, Biden is making sweeping promises to LGBTQ activists, proposing to carry out virtually every major proposal on their wish lists. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Biden plans swift moves to protect and advance LGBTQ rights

As vice-president in 2012, Joe Biden endeared himself to many LGBTQ Americans… Continue reading

Canadian Olympic gymnast and National Sport School alumni Kyle Shewfelt announces his retirement in Calgary, Thursday, May 21, 2009. Calgary's board of education will close the National Sport School that has produced Olympic and Paralympic champions for 26 years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Canada's Erica Wiebe, left, celebrates after defeating Nigeria's Blessing Onyebuchi, right on the ground, to win Gold medal in women's FS 76Kg wrestling at the Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Most Read