Truck Driver Pleads Guilty in Crash That Killed 16 Hockey Players

Nearly one year after a bus carrying a junior league hockey team was involved in a deadly crash with a truck, killing 16 people, the driver of the truck has pleaded guilty to all charges.

On Tuesday, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm following last year’s April 6 crash, according to the Associated Press.

A total of 29 people — including team members, coaches and the bus driver — were on board at the time of the crash, authorities confirmed.

The Humboldt Broncos, a team made up of athletes aged 16 to 20, were on their way to a Saskatchewan Junior League playoff game in Nipawin, Canada, when Sidhu’s transport truck crashed into the hockey team bus.

Sidhu’s case has been adjourned until Jan. 28 for sentencing. The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years and 10 years for dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

RELATED: Victim, 21, of Canadian Hockey Team Bus Crash to Save the Lives of Others Through Organ Donation

Following his appearance on Tuesday, Sidhu and his lawyer, Mark Brayford, spoke with reporters.

“His position to me was, ‘I just want to plead guilty. I don’t want you to plea bargain. I don’t want a trial,’ ” Brayford said on behalf of his client, according to the AP.

“Mr. Sidhu advised me: ‘I don’t want to make things any worse. I can’t make things any better, but I certainly don’t want to make them worse by having a trial.’ ” Brayford said, adding that Sidhu wanted to plead guilty to avoid further delay.

“He wanted the families to know he is devastated by the grief he has caused them. He is overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and kindness that some of the families and players have expressed to him in spite of the fact that their grief is entirely his fault,” Brayford added.

Brayford did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Following the hearing, the father of a victim gave an emotional address. Scott Thomas, whose 18-year-old son Evan died in the crash, choked back tears as he spoke with members of the press, as reported by Global News.

“All I’ve ever told my kids is speaking about accountability and responsibility and to hear him use his own words to plead guilty, it’s powerful,” said Thomas, who sat near Sidhu in court.

“Now we can move forward with the next part of this,” the grieving father said. “When he said, ‘Guilty,’ to me, I have my closure. If he spends a day, if he spends 10 years, time is irrelevant. He was guilty. He acknowledged that. That’s all I needed to hear. The rest of the sentence doesn’t matter to me. It really doesn’t. It is not going to bring Evan back. I’ve got to spend the rest of my life with it. He’s got to spend the rest of his life with it.”

RELATED: 2 Survivors of the Canadian Ice Hockey Team Bus Crash Tragedy Suit Up and Return to the Rink

Sukhmander Singh of Adesh Deol Trucking, the owner of the Calgary trucking company Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. that hired Singh, faces eight charges relating to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations, according to the CBC.

Stephen Jenuth, a duty counsel lawyer representing Singh, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *