Filipinos grieve tragedy in Humboldt

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    Photos and article by Quay Evano

    A tragic collision between a bus and semi-trailer in Humboldt, Saskatchewan that resulted in 16 deaths and injured 13 members of the Humboldt Broncos Hockey Team and staff has shaken the country and people around the world.

    The crash happened April 6 when the hockey team was travelling to Nipawin for a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game. A semi-trailer carrying peat moss collided with the bus at an intersection. It was also the site of a 1997 collision that resulted in the death of a family of six from British Columbia.

    The incident has gripped the hearts of everyone in Canada and has left the country in mourning. Fundraisers, tributes and prayer vigils have been set up to honor the young lives that were abruptly cut short.

    A prayer vigil was held April 13 at the Chinook Winds Park outdoor hockey rink in Airdrie. The vigil was set up by Cody Thompson for his friend and fellow Airdrie resident Ryan Straschnitzki, who survived the crash. Ryan suffered a broken back and is paralyzed from the waist down.

    “On six o’ clock on Friday night my heart sank,” says Thompson. “All I could wish for is to hear his voice one more time. I actually phoned his cellphone 37 times in about an hour, just hoping he would pick up. When we got the news that he was okay, that he was in the hospital and that he was one of the survivors, for about five seconds I couldn’t be more grateful.”

    Thompson also set up a fundraiser #StrazStrong selling hats for his friend Ryan who is nicknamed Straz.

    Filipinos in Humboldt have expressed deep sorrow for the loss of these young lives. Being a small community, Humboldt and nearby towns fervently supports their local hockey teams.

    Toni Mari Acaylar works as a nurse near Humboldt and goes to the same church as 18-year old Brody Hinz, one of the players who died. She and the other parishioners were devastated when they heard the news of his passing, she says.

    “Humboldt has almost 6,000 residents and has a tight-knit relationship with each other just like our families back home, so it is not hard for ourselves to integrate with the community,” Acaylar said. “Our small church group held comforting prayers and songs and we also sent sympathy cards and flowers as well as extended financial support to the victims’ families.”

    Selfa Boller is a nanny to a nine-year old hockey player.

    “It is a very sad news, even though we don’t know them personally, but as a human being it is a very tragic news and I feel sorry for the families,” Boller says. “I feel bad for the victims. It is a very small community, but you can count on the people who live here. Everybody is willing to help in their own ways. We show our support, our love. We make sure the community is there for them that they are not alone in this tragic tragedy.”

    A GoFund Me record of more than $10 million has been raised to support the victims and their families and several tributes like @putoutyourstick has become viral on social media to honor the whole Broncos team.

    According to authorities, the cause of the collision hasn’t been established yet and the investigation is ongoing.

    Photo caption for newspaper:

    Prayer vigil held in Airdrie for Ryan Straschnitzki