Church bells to ring 29 times in Humboldt, Sask., to commemorate 4th anniversary of fatal bus crash

Church bells in Humboldt, Sask., will ring 29 times on Wednesday to mark the sombre anniversary of a devastating bus crash.

29 people were on board the bus, 16 of whom died

Church bells in Humboldt, Sask., will ring 29 times on Wednesday to mark the sombre anniversary of a devastating bus crash.

The Humboldt Broncos hockey team was traveling to a playoff game on April 6, 2018, when the team bus crashed into a semi-truck that went into its path after the truck's driver failed to stop at a stop sign on a highway north of Tisdale, Sask.

Thirteen people were injured and 16 died.

Humboldt Mayor Michael Behiel said there will be a low-key approach to this year's anniversary at the request of families and because of COVID-19, but efforts will still be made to commemorate the day.

"We will continue to pay respects and memorialize the tragedy that happened and ensure that we recognize and respect the people that paid so much tribute and support to us during that dark time," he said.

Behiel said the church bells will ring at the same time as the crash. The bus hit the semi at around 4:50 p.m. CST.

A tribute will also be set up in the Elgar Peterson Arena for people to visit as they please.

It will include video tributes and slideshows playing on the jumbotron. The rink boards have also been lined with quilts made for people who were affected by the bus crash.

Penny Lee, communications manager for the City of Humboldt, said it will be a place where people can "pay their respects and just have a quiet place to reflect."

The tribute centre will be open from 4:30 p.m. until 5:15 p.m. CST. The video tributes will also be available on the city's website and Facebook page.

A permanent tribute centre and roadside memorial are still in the works after plans were announced last year on the third anniversary, according to Lee.

'Every day we play for them'

Scott Barney, head coach and general manager of the Broncos, said the anniversary is a tough time for many people and that the team is always thinking about the players and staff involved in the crash, along with their families.

"Every day we play for them. When we come to the rink to practise, when we play our games, every time we step on the ice. We play for all the families, players and staff affected by that tragedy," he said.

As painful as the anniversary can be, he said the team finds solace in the community support it receives.

"Our community has been huge behind us here in Humboldt. Over the last couple of home games and through the season, we have one of the highest attendance in the SJHL and [fans] are always behind us," he said.

"You just feel the passion in the community for the players and the staff and the organization."

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