Saskatchewan police have now confirmed the identities of 12 of the 15 individuals who died as a result of Friday night’s horrific bus accident involving the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s (SJHL) Humboldt Broncos.
The team’s bus was t-boned by a semi-transport truck at junction of Highway 35 just outside of Nipawin, SK late on Friday night. While police continue to investigate the scene of the crash, they’ve released the identities of 12 individuals. Read below to learn more about these young men and the life that they led during their brief time here in this world.
Information provided by the Canadian Press:
Bieber worked for Humboldt radio station CHBO and often travelled with the team as its play-by-play radio announcer.
Steven Wilson, a co-worker in Weyburn, Sask., said it was Bieber’s first season announcing for the team. He also covered morning news.
"He definitely had a natural talent," said Wilson. "He was just passionate about sports."
Wilson said he filled in a few times for Bieber because he was also busy coaching the Humbolt high school’s basketball and football teams.
The assistant coach was from Strasbourgh, Sask., where he was named most valuable player last year while playing with the Maroons in the Highway Hockey League.
"I can honestly say I didn’t know a more kind-hearted, generous, caring and overall nice person," cousin Graeme Cross said in an online tribute.
"Mark was one of those people that just made you feel safe and brought a special spark when you were in his presence."
Doerksen is described by his employer, Charlie’s Charters, in a Facebook post as an "outstanding friend, husband, and father."
"In talking to him, he spoke at length of his time in rinks with his own family and now how much he enjoyed being able to take and watch other teams from minor, to senior to SJHL to their hockey games," the Kinistino Tigers wrote of Doersken, who drove their team to and from playoff games.
"We will never forget the smile on your face as we left Allan after winning the Championship and got you to give ‘two honks for the Cup.’ Tonight Glen, we give two honks for you. Rest easy Sir."
The head coach of the Humboldt Broncos was described in online tributes as a "great man" and amazing mentor to young players.
"He will always be a great man in our hearts," his sister posted on Twitter under the name Debbie Jayne. "The tears just keep coming."
Before becoming a coach, he played junior hockey in the league in the 1990s.
Steven Wilson, a radio play-by-play announcer in Weyburn, Sask., called Haugan "the classiest guy" in the league who always had time to chat.
He said the last time he saw Haugan, the coach was playing video games in his office with one of his two young sons.
"He was very dedicated to his family and at the same time he was a hockey guy."
Wilson said Haugan’s wife, Christina George-Haugan, worked as the team’s office manager.
The youngest member of the team, Herold would have turned 17 this week.
He was also a new member of the team — up until a few weeks ago, Herold was captain of the Regina Pat Canadians, manager John Smith said. But when the Regina team’s season wrapped up, Herold was sent to join the Broncos for their playoff round.
"He was a wonderful young man. Never afraid to help his teammates. Always there for them. Good, typical Saskatchewan farm boy. Always load the bus, unload the bus, never afraid to roll up his sleeves and get work done," Smith said.
Smith said Herold is survived by his mom, dad and an older sister.
The 18-year-old Hinz had recently started tallying the Broncos’ numbers for Humboldt radio station CHBO.
"Brody had recently joined our Golden West family, mentored by Tyler and the Bolt FM team," Lyndon Frieson, president of Golden West Radio, said in a statement posted on the station’s website.
"Tragedy has hit our community and it reaches into every corner of life in Humboldt."
Another company statement described Hinz as an intern still in high school.
The night of the crash marked a double tragedy for the family. A relative said on Facebook that another family member lost a baby boy in Humboldt hospital shortly after he was born.
Hunter’s death was confirmed by his former team, the St. Albert Raiders in his Alberta hometown.
The organization’s president, Kevin Porter, said he heard the news from Hunter’s mother.
"He always had a smile on his face," said Porter, who described Hunter as a "smart kid and a great hockey player" with a "great sense of humour."
The Edmonton native’s death was confirmed by the Surrey Eagles, his former team in the British Columbia Hockey League.
The Broncos website says Joseph, who was 20 years old, was among the leading scorers in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs, playing on a line with Logan Schatz, another player who lost his life in the crash.
In a profile published on the team’s website in January, Schatz paid tribute to Joseph and fellow linemate Conner Lukan.
"I’ve really clicked with Joseph and Lukan. I can’t say enough good things about them," Schatz said.
Isaac Labelle eulogized his 18-year-old brother in an Instagram post Saturday.
"I have no words to describe what I’m feeling. Best friends, teammates, allies, brothers," he wrote. "We’ve been through so much together. We had a special bond from the day you were born."
"I’m going to miss you bro. I’ll always remember you and who you were will influence me for the rest of my life."
A defenceman, Xavier Labelle was a native of Saskatoon.
The team captain had played for the Broncos for just over four years and had served as team captain for the past 2 1/2 years, his father Kelly Schatz said.
The native of Allan, Sask., played centre and was named the league’s player of the month in February after earning points in eight of nine games. He was 20 years old.
Kelly Schatz said his family is seeking solace in one another.
"It’s hard," Kelly Schatz said. "I’ve got four other kids and they’re here, which is nice."
Thomas, from Saskatoon, was the "kind of kid any dad would be proud to call his" own, said his father, Scott.
"He was a self-driven, motivated, retrospective, quiet, confident and very self-assured young man."
It was the 18-year-old’s first season as a forward with the Humboldt Broncos.
His dad says he was an athlete, playing both hockey and baseball, and a strong student.
"He liked sports, but at times I think he tolerated sports so he could be a teammate," said Thomas. "He just loved being a teammate. He loved his teammates and I think that was more important to him than the actual sport he was playing.
"He loved those boys. He really loved those boys."
The 21-year-old defenceman was one of the victims of the crash, his cousin Alicia Wack confirmed. He had played with the Broncos for two seasons.
Wack said her cousin made the best gingerbread houses and "absolutely lived and breathed hockey."
"Stephen has always been an amazing person, son, big brother, and cousin. He is one of the most adventurous, ambitious, and loving people that I have ever been blessed to know," she said in a Facebook post.