UPDATE - April 11, 2018: Humboldt Broncos athletic therapist Dayna Brons died of her injuries in hospital, 5 days after the bus crash. She is the 16th fatality in the accident.
NIPAWIN, Sask. — The home of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team has become a scene of mourning, support, and strength following a horrific bus crash that killed 15 on the team bus.
Humboldt Mayor Rob Muench, wearing a green and yellow team Broncos jersey, hugged people Saturday morning as they came to the Elger Petersen Arena in the eastern Saskatchewan town to comfort each other and learn more about the crash, which took place early Friday evening northeast of their community.
"It has hit us hard," said Muench. "We are a small community by most standards but the hockey team has always been a big part of our community."
The crash killed Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan, team captain Logan Schatz and the team's play-by-play radio announcer Tyler Bieber. The names of others killed have not been confirmed.
Humboldt resident Penny Lee said everything in the community revolves around the Broncos and the players were always taking part in community events.
"Hockey is the community. Everyone is in shock," she said. "We are numb, as a community we are numb."
Many people wandered in and out of the arena during the morning. Multiple crisis workers were assisting in a separate area.
Flowers were placed on the stairs in the rink stands. The railings were wrapped in yellow and green ribbon to honour the team.
We ask all members of the SaskHockey community to join us in saying a prayer for the the Humboldt Broncos team and their families.— Saskatchewan Hockey (@sask_hockey) April 7, 2018
The team, in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, was on its way to play in Game 5 of a semi-final playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks.
Darren Opp, president of the Hawks, said a semi T-boned the players' bus.
The family of Ryan Straschnitzki confirmed the 18-year-old player survived but broke his back and can't feel his lower extremities.
Kelly Schatz, Logan's father, said his 20-year-old son played for the Broncos for just over four years and had served as team captain for the past two-and-a-half years.
He says the family is seeking solace in one another.
"It's hard," Kelly Schatz said. "I've got four other kids and they're here, which is nice."
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Haugan's wife, Christina George-Haugan, confirmed his death to The Canadian Press. Tributes poured in online for father of two young sons who was described as an amazing mentor to players.
"He will always be a great man in our hearts," his sister posted on Twitter under the name Debbie Jayne. "The tears just keep coming."
My big little brother, Darcy. The tears just keep coming... pic.twitter.com/HyhpQ4PIhe— invisigirlonfire (@DebbieJayneC) April 7, 2018
Steven Wilson, a play-by-play announcer in Weyburn, Sask., called Haugan "the classiest guy" in the league.
Hassan Masri, an emergency room doctor at Saskatoon's Royal University Hospital, said a "code orange" was called signalling massive casualties.
"The images and the injuries that I saw yesterday, really that's what they reminded me of, when there was an airstrike and a massive number of people would be coming in at the same time in horrible shape," said Masri, who has done work in war-torn Syria.
A message posted to Facebook from Dr. Hassan McMasri — one of the doctors who was at the scene when the young men and hockey staff were brought in to the hospital. #PrayersForHumboldt pic.twitter.com/BGY8X3l5CH— Jessika Guse (@JessikaGuse) April 7, 2018
Masri said it was emotional given Saskatchewan communities are knit together by hockey.
"A lot of people have kids that play on hockey teams that travel from town to town," he said. "This was either personal because you knew someone or personal because you could really relate to it."
Hockey teams and players from leagues across North America tweeted messages of support, many with the hashtag #prayersforhumboldt.
In Toronto, Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, who grew up in Saskatoon, fought his emotions as he discussed the crash.
"I can't even imagine being the parent, or the wife, or the kids at home, going through something like this," said Babcock. "It's gotta rip the heart out of your chest. We pray for those families and we're thinking about them."
I cannot imagine what these parents are going through, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, in the Humboldt community and beyond. https://t.co/2cIn2CTy08— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 7, 2018
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country is in shock and mourning.
"We are heartbroken knowing many of those we lost had their entire lives in front of them," he said in a statement Saturday. "We grieve with those facing news no parent or family should ever have to face.
"This is every parent's worst nightmare. No one should ever have to see their child leave to play the sport they love and never come back."
U.S. President Donald Trump also expressed condolences on Twitter.
Just spoke to @JustinTrudeau to pay my highest respect and condolences to the families of the terrible Humboldt Team tragedy. May God be with them all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2018
Broncos president Kevin Garinger said the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team includes players from Edmonton, Slave Lake and Airdrie in Alberta and from Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
He said the Broncos are a close-knit team from the small city of about 6,000 people 110 kilometres east of Saskatoon.
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is a Junior 'A' hockey league under Hockey Canada, which is part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. It's open to North American-born players between the age of 16 and 20.
The crash has cruel echoes of 1986, when the Swift Current Broncos team bus crash slid off an icy highway and crashed in late December, killing four players.