The truck driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu has directed his lawyer he will plead guilty to all 29 charges and take full responsibility for the accident, he has also advised he will not seek a plea bargain.
The driver of the truck that collided with the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team in April pleaded guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving causing death or bodily harm in a Canadian court on Tuesday.
Jaskirat Singh Sidhu told his lawyer, “I just want to plead guilty; I don’t want you to plea bargain; I don’t want a trial,” the attorney Mark Brayford told reporters outside the courthouse.
“Mr. Sidhu advised me, ‘I don’t want to make things any worse. I can’t make things any better, but I certainly don’t want to make them worse by having a trial,’ ” Brayford said, via the Canadian Press news service.
The Broncos were traveling to a playoff game in rural Saskatchewan on April 6, 2018, when Sidhu, driving a truck carrying peat moss, failed to yield to a stop sign and struck the team’s bus. The crash killed 16 people and injured 13 more.
Sidhu’s plea on Tuesday stirred emotion among many of the family members and teammates of the deceased and injured members of the team.
“All I’ve ever told my kids is speaking about accountability and responsibility and to hear him use his own words to plead guilty, it’s powerful,” said Scott Thomas, whose 18-year-old son, Evan, was killed in the crash. “Now we can more forward with the next part of this.
“When he said, ‘Guilty,’ to me, I have my closure,” Thomas added. “If he spends a day, if he spends 10 years, time is irrelevant. He was guilty. He acknowledged that. That’s all I needed to hear.
“The rest of the sentence doesn’t matter to me. It really doesn’t. It is not going to bring Evan back. I’ve got to spend the rest of my life with it. He’s got to spend the rest of his life with it.”
Michelle Straschnitzki, whose son Ryan was paralyzed in the collision, said she was grateful the guilty plea would abbreviate legal proceedings, but she worried it also would greatly reduce Sidhu’s sentence. The maximum period of incarceration for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years. It is 10 years for dangerous driving causing injury, according to the Canadian Press.
Brayford, Sidhu’s attorney, told reporters his client appreciated his reception from the Humboldt community.
“He wanted the families to know that he’s devastated by the grief that he’s caused them,” Brayford said. “And he’s overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and kindness that some of the families and players have expressed to him in spite of the fact their grief is entirely his fault.”
Government prosecutor Thomas Healey said a sentencing hearing could take up to five days. It is set to begin Jan. 28.