The news of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team’s bus crash has been compounded by a cruel twist: One of the players believed to have been killed in Friday’s crash in Saskatchewan is alive, and another believed to be alive is dead.
The Saskatchewan Justice Ministry confirmed the coroner’s mistake to CBC.ca, saying Xavier Labelle is alive and Parker Tobin, previously “misidentified” and believed to have survived, is dead.
“This was an identification error, and Xavier is not deceased, ” the ministry announced in a statement. “Our condolences go out to the family of Parker Tobin. Unfortunately, Parker is one of the 15 that have lost their lives in this terrible tragedy. Parker had been misidentified and was previously believed to have survived.”
A spokesperson added that the Office of the Chief Coroner apologizes for the mistakes. There was no information on how the mix-up occurred.
Fifteen people were killed when the bus collided with a tractor trailer around 5 p.m. Friday on Highway 35, about 150 miles northeast of Saskatoon. The team was traveling to a playoff game in Nipawin, Saskatchewan.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the Labelle and Tobin families this morning,” Broncos team president Kevin Garinger said in a statement, “as we continue to do everything in our power to support all families of victims of this tragedy and every member of the Humboldt Broncos community.”
Over the weekend, Tobin’s family had tweeted that he was alive, with Rhonda Clarke Tobin writing, “This is one of the hardest posts I have ever had to make. Parker is stable at the moment and being airlifted to Saskatoon hospital.”
Xavier Labelle’s brother, Isaac, had confirmed his death, sharing photos of the two on Instagram and writing: “I have no words to describe what I’m feeling. Best friends, teammates, allies, brothers …. We’ve been through so much together. We had a special bond from the day you were born. You were always so happy and your smile and laughter was enough to brighten anyone’s day. My heart is broken that our paths have been separated by this terrible tragedy. I love you so much and I’m sorry. I’m going to miss you bro. I’ll always remember you and who you were will influence me for the rest of my life. Say hi to everyone up there for me and may we meet again one day.”
Police have yet to discuss the cause of the crash; the driver of the tractor trailer was not injured and was not in custody, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Saturday.
The Humboldt community came together to grieve Sunday night at a vigil at Elgar Peterson Arena that was attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Garinger struggled as he read the names of those killed, names that include the team’s coach, bus driver and many players.
“Not one of us is alone in our grief,” Garinger said (via ESPN), later encouraging the community to “continue to reach out. Reach out to one another for help and support. Across our province, our country and our globe, we will find strength in each other.”
Fourteen people were injured in the crash.