I’m watching the repeating coverage about the recent fatal crash of the Hockey team the Humboldt Broncos. Loaded Bus versus Loaded Semi 15 dead on the bus.
Over the past two seasons I’ve been doing volunteer camera work for the local hockey team, the Grand Forks Border Bruins. And I’ve often showed up at the parking lot for the arena and seen the visiting team’s bus. Sometimes it’s coated with evidence of the gauntlet of winter mountain travel – visible warnings to those thinking of heading out on the highway. Do so at your peril. And I feel a little grab at my gut as I’m reminded that these young guys are literally putting their lives on the line traveling in all kinds of winter weather to play the game.
It’s not just in the mountains that winter travel is dangerous . . . the Broncos crash isn’t the only hockey team bus crash on the roads of Saskatchewan. Sheldon Kennedy is speaking about it as I write these words. He survived a crash that 4 of his teammates did not.
So I’m watching the news and they’re showing aerial footage of the accident scene and I cannot help but try and make sense of what I’m seeing. Two large vehicles on their sides in one quadrant off the intersection area. The bus shows extensive damage to one end. The semi’s load has spilled all over the landscape.
I look at the intersection and see skid / drag marks. Then I see a light post with a stop sign attached. The road crossing didn’t appear to have one. This lead me to wonder which vehicle was going which way – who had the stop and who had the ‘right of way’?
From what I could see I couldn’t make out the other side of the intersection. So I went off to Google Earth to take a look. As I was doing that they gave the location so I was able to find the intersection. Hwy 35 and Hwy 335.
The Google Maps Street View image is from May 2013 and it shows that the East/West Hwy 335 has stop signs but the North/South Hwy 35 does not. The Bus was traveling North; the semi West.
So what happened? We don’t know yet. The semi driver was unhurt and was released. No word of any charges.
As I looked around in the street view image something caught my eye.
Just a little bit off the intersection on the other side of the ditch there was a small group of crosses. You know, the ones that bereaved loved ones put up in memorial to those lost in fatal accidents on the highway.
This group had 5 crosses: 3 large ones and 2 small ones.
IF they are still there you can probably see them easily from the crash site.
I wonder what happened at this corner before? And did 5 people die?
It turns out that my count as wrong – there are 6 crosses. They are for a family of 6 that died at that corner in June of 1997. The CBC has noted it.
After that accident the Stop signs were augmented with flashing red lights. But passive control signals require that human beings pay attention and when they don’t . . . people might die.