10/10/2018 11:02 EDT | Updated 10/10/2018 11:02 EDT

Humboldt Broncos Crash Victims' Families Slam Book About Team As 'Exploitive'

Author Barry Heath says he isn't making any money off the book.

Sixteen banners in honour of the lives taken in the April bus crash are shown in the foreground and the banners for the survivors sit in the background during a tribute to the Humboldt Broncos in Humboldt , Sask., on Sept. 12, 2018.

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan author says he had good intentions when he wrote a book about the Humboldt Broncos and the team's deadly bus crash.

"Humble Beginnings of the Humboldt Broncos and the 2017-2018 Team," written by Barry Heath, was self-published last month.

Heath, a former veterinarian and community coroner, says he's sorry some of the victims' families believe they had to give him permission to celebrate their loved ones.

Earlier: Humboldt Broncos make emotional return to the ice. Story continues below.

Sixteen people were killed and thirteen were injured in April when the junior hockey team's bus and a semi truck collided at a rural intersection near Tisdale, Sask.

Several family members say they didn't want the book published and have asked people not to buy it.

It seems very opportunistic and exploitive, to be honest.Michelle Straschnitzki

Michelle Straschnitzki, whose son Ryan was paralyzed in the crash, says most of the families weren't ready and didn't want to participate in the book.

The team's president at the time also asked Heath not to write it, she said.

"It seems very opportunistic and exploitive, to be honest," said Straschnitzki.

"It's not that we want to hurt this man's way of making a living but ... for him to include this very, very raw tragedy without our consent — the timing is really suspect."

POOL New / Reuters
Mourners comfort each other during a vigil at the Elgar Petersen Arena, home of the Humboldt Broncos, to honour the victims of a fatal bus accident in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, April 8, 2018.

Heath said he isn't making any money off the book. Proceeds go to a charity that gives bursaries to young hockey players.

He said that in writing the book he relied on media interviews with family members and others to "capture and retell the beautiful memories of lives lost and changed." Two parents had initially been willing to participate in the book, he said.

He believes some of the families are understandably still grieving and need someone to be angry at.

"Without knowing what is in the book — a tribute to the Broncos of last year, the response, the worldwide attention and giving, and the team history from its inception — I am the current focus of blame and anger.

"I am sorry they feel that way and understand one's anger needs to have a focus."

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Indigo's website lists the book as available in some of its Saskatchewan stores as well as online.

Heath has written three other books that include his work as a coroner and veterinarian.

With files from Bill Graveland

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