In an unexpected change of course, former Humboldt Broncos forward Ryan Straschnitzki has filed a lawsuit against Glen Doerksen, who was better known for being the driver of the motor coach in which the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Broncos were on when travelling to Nipawin to play the Hawks on April 6, 2018.
The bus never made it to Nipawin as it was involved in a major accident, colliding with Jaskirat Sidhu’s semi-trailer at the intersection of highways 35 and 335. 16 lives were lost, while the other 13 passengers on the bus suffered a variety of serious injuries.
In early January of 2019, Sidhu appeared before a judge in a Melfort, SK. courtroom, where he pleaded guilty to all 29 counts of dangerous diving resulting in either injury or death. In July of 2018, Sidhu was charged with 29 counts of dangerous driving, as he missed a total of four highway signs leading up to the blown stop sign at the intersection – a move Sidhu claims was due to his distraction from observing a flapping tarp on the exterior of his trailer. Sidhu was later sentenced to eight years in prison for his criminal act.
Straschnitzki, who is now paralyzed from the waist down, has undergone nearly two full years of rehab and recovery. He has dealt with many mental breakdowns, headaches, insomnia and symptoms of PTSS. Now 20 years old, Straschnitzki is suing for $13.5 million in damages following the crash.
The lawsuit alleges that Doerksen was speeding at the time of the crash, while travelling towards an intersection well-known for its checkered past relating to traffic accidents, including a number of deaths in recent years.
Naming the Estate of Glen Doerksen, Jaskirat Sidhu, the bus charter, the trucking company and the governments of Saskatchewan and Alberta as the defendants, Straschnitzki is looking for compensation for injury, as well as wages lost and future damages that his paralysis will have on his life.
There have yet to be any publicly filed statements of defence released from any of the named defendants.
A line from Straschnitzki’s lawsuit reads:
“The actions and/or emissions of all defendants were reprehensible, reckless, malicious, high-handed and demonstrated such a lack of disregard for the health, safety and rights of the Humboldt Broncos that the plaintiff hereby claims punitive damages.”
At the original sentencing hearing, the court learned that Sidhu was travelling between 86 and 96 kilometres per hour at the time of the crash. It was determined that Doerksen had ‘no way out’ from avoiding the wreck. However, Straschnitzki’s suit alleges Doerksen was speeding at the time of the crash, a fact holding merit considering the RCMP’s estimation of Doerksen’s speed of 97-110 kilometres per hour leading to the time of impact. The speed limit where Doerksen was travelling was 100 kilometres per hour.
“There is always new expenses and he’s going to have to be taken care of for the rest of his life,” said Ryan’s mother, Michelle Straschnitzki in a recent interview. “We won’t always be here. And people don’t understand. Long-term care for people who are in wheelchairs, the cost is astronomical.”
The Straschnitzki family has received significant backlash following the launch of the lawsuit, as the online community has been quick to defend both Doerksen and the due diligence of both provinces involved through the courting process, while also pointing to the GoFundMe page which raised $15.2 million for the families of the Broncos team.
Straschnitzki was recently joined by families of Dayna Brons (athletic therapist), Jaxon Joseph, Logan Hunter, Jacob Leicht, Mark Cross (assistant coach) and Adam Herold as other members of the Humboldt Broncos who have sued either the governments, drivers or companies involved with Straschnitzki’s suit.
Monday, April 6 will mark the two-year anniversary of the horrific crash.