'A feeling of total disbelief': Sask. tragedy hits close to home in Bathurst, N.B.
Events in Saskatchewan are hitting close to home for a Maritime community that dealt with a hauntingly similar tragedy a decade ago.
Fifteen people are dead after a bus carrying a junior hockey team to a playoff game in Saskatchewan collided with a transport truck on a rural highway, according to RCMP.
The crash involving the Humboldt Broncos team bus occurred on Highway 35 near Tisdale, more than 200 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, late Friday afternoon.
The bus was T-boned by a transport truck, according to the president of the Nipawin Hawks. There were 29 people, including the driver, on board the bus at the time of the collision, RCMP said in a release.
Police said three of the people transported to hospital have injuries that are "critical in nature."
A similar tragedy occurred in New Brunswick on Jan. 12, 2008. Eight people were killed when a 15-passenger van carrying the Bathurst High School boys' basketball team lost control on a slushy highway. The victims have been remembered as the ‘Boys in Red.’
With the Bathurst crash forever burned into the minds of many people in the northern city, word of the devastating crash of another van on the prairies has quickly brought back painful memories in the province.
Many say ten years later they can still relate to what the people of Humboldt are going through.
“To see the same type of thing happen in Saskatchewan… it's a feeling of total disbelief,” said MLA Brian Kenney. “It's really difficult.”
Premier Brian Gallant also offered sympathies to the family and friends of those killed and injured in the accident at the liberal party's policy convention in Bathurst Saturday.
“I know they're just trying to get through the next few hours and days and our thoughts are with everybody in Saskatchewan,” said Gallant.
In addition to condolences, Premier Gallant said New Brunswick will offer help.
“Anything that we can do to help ensure the families, the communities, and the province as a whole can get through this I would certainly be willing to share some of the things that worked well and making sure the people could heal and learn from the event when we had something similar happen here in New Brunswick,” he said.
Earlier in the year, the city came together to remember the tenth anniversary of the Bathurst tragedy.
In the Bathurst crash, an oncoming transport truck tore the van apart, killing seven teenage players and the wife of their coach.
Five of the boys who died -- Javier Acevedo, Nathan Cleland, Justin Cormier, Codey Branch, and Daniel Hains -- were 17 years old. The other two students were Nick Quinn, 16, and Nikki Kelly, 15.
Four others were injured in what was the deadliest-crash in the province since 1989.
Some New Brunswickers are now offering small words of comfort from a city that's never forgotten its beloved Boys in Red.
“Any type of tragedy such as this, it affects the community, we can move on but it's always on someone's mind,” said Brian Kenney.
Premier Gallant says he will reach out to Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe to offer any help he can as the prairie province continues to deal with this unimaginable tragedy.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis