Truck driver in fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash gets day parole
BOWDEN, ALBERTA — The Parole Board of Canada has granted the truck driver who caused the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash a six-month day parole.
Following an emotional seven-hour hearing at Bowden Institution on Wednesday, the two-member board committee said Jaskirat Singh Sidhu will be granted full parole after those six months if he meets all the conditions, including the lack of contact with the families of the victims.
Sidhu was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving charges for the 2018 crash that killed 16 people and injured 13.
Sidhu drove through a stop sign at a rural Saskatchewan intersection and found himself in the path of the junior hockey team’s bus on its way to a playoff game.
Family members of four of Humboldt’s victims have approached the council, asking that they deny Sidhu’s parole.
« Where is the faith where we hold people accountable to our laws? I’ve lost all faith in justice in our country to keep us safe on the roads, » said Shauna Nordstrom, whose son Logan Hunter died in the ‘accident.
She had little sympathy for Sidhu and his wife, who is also from India.
« This couple wanted to start a life together, but if our rules are broken there are consequences and your consequence is to serve your sentence and then be deported. You really wasted your only chance, » she said. .
« My son was unlucky and we are serving a life sentence. »
The audience also heard from Andrea Joseph, her husband and daughter, who is getting married this weekend.
Joseph said she had to relive every moment of the day Sidhu killed her son Jaxon. She said Sidhu’s actions were those of a « very selfish human being ».
« I want you to know that I haven’t stopped crying for my little boy. I haven’t stopped whispering goodnight to my little boy and I hope he comes to visit me in my dreams, » she said, wiping away her tears.
« Please do not grant this man day parole. It would hurt my heart, the hearts of my family and the hearts of Canadians who have children and want their children to be protected. »
Russ Herold, who lost his son Adam, said the thought of Sidhu being released makes him sick.
“The idea that Mr Sidhu will soon be on parole is disappointing and further impairs our healing process. My son had no choice,” he said.
« He was an innocent passenger on a bus, going to his hockey game, minding his own business. »
The panel grilled Sidhu for three hours on Wednesday afternoon to question him about inconsistencies in some of his initial statements, including telling his boss he was distracted by a swinging tarp, then telling the RCMP that he had the sun in his eyes.
The panel chairman also questioned why Sidhu missed a number of stop sign warnings, why he didn’t call 911 or help victims after the crash.
« You had ample opportunity to react to do something. Why didn’t you go help? » she asked.
« I didn’t know what to do when I saw blood, I saw people on the ground. I heard people crying. I just froze, » Sidhu replied.
Sidhu apologized to the families after their victim impact statements.
« I want the parole board to know that what I did was very horrific, destroyed the lives of so many families. I deeply hurt each and every one of them. I destroyed their dreams, destroyed their future and now I have given them unbearable pain, » Sidhu said.
« I’m sorry for the pain I caused. I’m sorry I destroyed their lives. I’m sorry I wasn’t careful that day. »
He said he never meant to hurt anyone or for that to happen to anyone.
The Canada Border Services Agency recommended in March that Sidhu be handed over to the Immigration and Refugee Board to decide whether he should be deported to India.
His attorney is seeking to argue against the deportation in Federal Court.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 20, 2022.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press