The Castlegar Rebels are sending their thoughts and prayers to the Humbolt Broncos after 15 lives were lost in a bus crash on Friday.
Bill Rotheisler, head coach and general manager for the Rebels, said he’s felt awful since he heard the news.
“It’s been tough. It’s awful, it’s awful, and you never wanna hear anything like that. You always know that you obviously take risks,” he said. “I think the tough part, that really hit us home, was there’s so many parallels between our own lives and we know that that could have happened to any one of us.”
Asked if the accident in Saskatchewan gives him pause when thinking about all the winter driving the Rebels will do next year, Rotheisler said it’s just part of territory, and he’s even had a close call before, when he was associate coach for the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, the year before he joined the Rebels.
“When I was in Creston we had to use a runaway lane and everyone kind of has their stories of sort of maybe minor incidents or something,” said Rotheisler. “So I’ve already had incidents that kind of make you think twice.”
“It was really scary. It ended up being pretty anticlimactic, obviously, there was nobody hurt, but … there was a time there we didn’t know how it was going to end and it was scary,” he added.
Rotheisler said all he and the other staff can do is make sure they’re doing the right things to protect the boys and avoid tragedy. Though in the case of the Broncos, he says it’s not clear what could have been done differently.
“I think that’s what makes it so sad and awful is that everyone always looks for a place you can point the finger and it just doesn’t seem like there is one in this case,” said Rotheisler. “It’s just an awful tragedy that you feel just should have never happened.”
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
The crash also hit home because some of the Rebels were close to members of the Broncos.
“Another reason why everyone is so affected by this is that they say there’s seven degrees of separation in the world, but everyone seems to have one degree of separation on this one,” said Rotheisler. “We have our own guys on our team that were extremely close to those guys.”
He said the Rebels hope that those still in critical care will make a full recovery.
Castlegar to hold vigil
A vigil in support of the Humboldt Broncos will be held on Thursday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre arena.
“Please join us … for a vigil to recognize the horrific tragedy that happened to the Humboldt Broncos Hockey Team on Friday, April 6,” wrote Coun. Sue Heaton Sherstobitoff in a press release. “The hockey world is a very tight-knit community and as such, it is fitting that Castlegar show its respect to shine a light on the community to give them strength through this difficult time.”
The vigil will include speakers, singers and drummers, and those who attend are asked to wear a jersey, from any sport, in support of the Broncos.
There will also be condolence books to sign and jars to collect donations to the team.