The wreckage of a fatal crash involing the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus outside Tisdale, Sask., is seen on Saturday, April, 7, 2018. A number of Broncos parents are angry there has been little action on seatbelts on buses since the crash that killed 16 people and injured 13. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The wreckage of a fatal crash involing the Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus outside Tisdale, Sask., is seen on Saturday, April, 7, 2018. A number of Broncos parents are angry there has been little action on seatbelts on buses since the crash that killed 16 people and injured 13. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

‘It’s just disgusting’: Broncos parents angry over lack of action on bus seatbelts

Sixteen people died during the Saskatchewan bus crash in 2018

Not a day goes by in the painful aftermath of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash that Michelle Straschnitzki doesn’t wonder what if?

Straschnitki’s son, Ryan, was one of 13 survivors, but was paralyzed from the chest down when the driver of a semi-trailer ran through a stop sign and into the path of the hockey bus at a rural Saskatchewan intersection in April 2018. Sixteen people would die.

She wonders how different things would have been if wearing seatbelts on the junior hockey team’s bus had been mandatory.

“I think about it every day. It certainly would have mitigated a lot of the carnage” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“I didn’t know I was going to get this angry to be honest. I get a little passionate.”

Straschnitzki, her husband Tom and a number of other Bronco parents are angry at what they see as inaction from the federal and provincial governments on measures that could prevent another tragedy.

The federal government is requiring all medium and large highway buses now being built to have seatbelts, but doesn’t make their use mandatory. Seatbelts on school buses are not required.

“It’s just disgusting that nothing has changed. It should be legislated as of yesterday. It should be across the board, across Canada. It makes me nuts,” Straschnitzki said.

“This is not OK. We should not be fighting for this 2 1/2 years after the bus crash. It’s not right.”

Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver did not respond to requests for an interview.

Both Straschnitzki and former NHL player Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon died, say McIver seems to consider them an inconvenience.

“We ambushed him at the legislature one day …We met with him a second time, but he only tolerates us. We’re an inconvenience to him,” said Joseph.

“The inaction that has happened since the Broncos crash is brutal.”

Rod Loyola, transportation critic for Alberta’s Opposition NDP, said he understands McIver has a busy portfolio, but says ignoring families isn’t right.

“Putting these families first is an absolute must and he hasn’t done that, so he should be ashamed of himself,” Loyola said.

“Ric McIver should be listening to these families. He should be giving them the time and that’s what the real issue is.”

An official with Transport Canada said the department is working with all levels of government to improve road safety with collision avoidance technologies and measures to prevent driver fatigue and distraction.

Sean Best said the safety record on school buses is excellent and an expert panel created by provincial transportation ministers didn’t recommend seatbelts.

“At the same time, the report also notes that there is merit in further exploring whether to move toward future mandatory seatbelt requirements,” Best said. “At present, such installation remains optional in recognition of the strong safety record of school buses.”

Transport Canada has introduced a limited pilot project in Ontario and British Columbia in which school buses will be outfitted with three-point seatbelts that meet federal safety standards.

A report in 2019 by the coroner’s service in Saskatchewan called for tougher enforcement of trucking rules and mandatory seatbelts on highway buses.

Kwei Quaye, vice-president of traffic safety services at Saskatchewan Government Insurance, said there is already legislation about wearing seatbelts on coach buses.

“Our provincial legislation says that if you’re on a vehicle in a seat that is equipped with a seatbelt, you have to put it on, so we already have a law that covers that,” Quaye said.

Putting seatbelts on school buses could be problematic, because they could require adjustments for the size of a child or bulky winter clothing, he said.

Straschnitzki and Joseph are worried that the window of opportunity for having something positive come out of the crash is starting to close.

“But I just think about cases where one person deciding to stay with it has made some positive change, even years after,” Joseph said. “I don’t think we’ll ever give up.”

READ MORE: Truck driver responsible for Humboldt Broncos crash seeks to stay in Canada

— With files from Stephanie Taylor in Regina.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Humboldt Broncos

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rori Denness throws a javelin during BC Summer Games in 2016. (Black Press Media file photo)
Port Alberni ponders bidding for 2026 B.C. Summer Games

Port Alberni last hosted the BC Winter Games in 2004

Victoria artisan Tina Neurauter, right, used to shop at Pot Luck Ceramics with her daughter from Port Alberni. Now Neurauter is selling her handmade soaps and bath products at Bibi J’s, a new enterprise in the former Pot Luck Ceramics building on Gertrude Street in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Former Pot Luck Ceramics location reimagined as Bibi J’s

Owner Helma Swinkels revives social enterprise with new name, vision

The Rollin Art Centre’s Mistletoe Market begins on Dec. 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre prepares for Mistletoe Market

Artisans and crafters are still needed for annual Christmas craft fair

‘Homelessness’ means many things to people with no permanent place to sleep. For some, the challenge to find safe shelter is greater than for others. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni mother battles to find housing for her son

Mary Elles fears her son will die on the street before he will find safe housing

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Port McNeill councillor Derek Koel busts a rap to help promote the town’s active transportation plan. (Facebook video screenshot)
VIDEO: Vancouver Island councillor makes rap video to promote active transportation plan

Active transportation is a personal matter for councillor Derek Koel.

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”
Free ‘Hollywood Suite’ movies in December include ‘Keanussance’ titles starring Keanu Reeves

Also featured is the Israeli-made ‘Valley of Tears,’ a 10-part war drama

Most Read