(MELFORT, SASK) – Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who was the driver of the transport truck that was invovled in the violent and deadly Humboldt Broncos crash has plead guilty to all the charges he is facing.
Sidhu appeared in a Melfort Saskatchewan courtroom earlier today, Tuesday, January 8th, 2019.
The crash resulted in 16 people losing their lives and 13 more injured when the transport Sidhu was driving, while loaded with peat moss, collided with the bus full of Humboldt Broncos who were on their way down the highway last April.
16 counts of dangerous driving causing death along with 13 charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm is what Sidhu was charged with, and has pleaded guilty to.
The bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos was on the way to a playoff game when Sidhu’s transport and the bus collided. They were not that far from Tisdale, Saskatchewan.
Sidhu said to the presiding Justice “I plead guilty, your honour.” as he was wearing a black suit, white dress shirt and tie. The Crown Attorney working the case requested 5 days for sentencing and the matter was set to appear back before the courts on January 28th.
Mark Brayford, who is Sidhu’s criminal defence lawyer said that more evidence still needs to be provided to the defence, but Sidhu wanted to enter a guilty plea to avoid any further delay.
The Humboldt Broncos bus was travelling north on Highway 35 when Sidhu’s transport was westbound on Highway 335, which he had a stop sign. A safety review of the crossroads was completed by a consulting firm for the Saskatchewan provincial government last month which resulted in sight lines being a safety issue.
A bunch of trees which are mainly on a private property, obstruct the view of drivers approaching from the south and east, the same directions the bus and semi-trailer were coming from when they collided, the review said. Recommendations included negotiating with the landowner to remove the trees, placing rumble strips on the road along with larger signs and painting “STOP” and “STOP AHEAD” directly on the roadway.
The same report determined that six collisions had occured at the same crossroads between 1990 and 2017, and 14 more nearby. In 1997, one of those collisions ended up being deadly when six people were killed when an eastbound pickup truck did not stop on Highway 335 and was hit by a southbound transport.
In December, the Saskatchewan government has introduced mandatory training for transport drivers. Beginning this March, drivers seeking a Class 1 commercial license are to have at least 121.5 hours of training. Before this, Saskatchewan Government Insurance accredited driving schools but training was not mandatory.
The owner of the Calgary based trucking company that Sidhu worked for was also charged shortly after the crash. Sukhmander Singh of Adesh Deol Trucking is facing eight charges that are based on federal and provincial safetyy regulations breaches.
With files from Ryan Mckenna/The Canadian Press