Scott Thomas was driving and listening to the radio on Thursday when he heard news of the deadly crash near Carberry, Man., which killed 15 people and injured 10 people.
Thomas had to stop.
“Whenever we hear the word semi-involved in a mass casualty right now, it’s breathtaking,” he said.
Thomas’s 18-year-old son, Evan, was one of 16 people killed in 2018 when the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team’s bus collided with a semi-trailer.
He is devastated for the families in Dauphin, Man., who have lost loved ones.
“The first thing you unfortunately have to accept is that your life will never be the same again,” he said.
“The person you were yesterday is gone. You’re going to have to find a new way to live… And you’re going to have to put one foot forward and then the next foot forward and just keep breathing and keep going and accept the help from the people around you.”
The horrific crash in Manitoba left many grappling with the tragedy, an experience for the people of Humboldt. Sask, knows it all too well.
Michael Behiel was a Humboldt City Councilman in 2018.
Now mayor, Behiel sprang into action to see how his city could help Dauphin.
“Our fire chief was in contact with the Dauphin fire chief to discuss triage measures, etc.
“The city officials have spoken to try and formulate whatever offers of help and input we can give them. And I’ve reached out to the mayor of Dauphin myself to offer any kind of support or input possible.”
The cities now have a bond of shared tragedy.
“It’s not a tie anyone would ever want in that shape or form,” Behiel said.
“I’ve made it clear that anything we can offer, even if it means going to Dauphin to help the mayor in any form, that it’s there. And that our phone is on 24 hours a day to make sure that they get all the support they can get or need.”
Behiel said those grieving shouldn’t be afraid to seek help and make sure they focus on themselves.
“Don’t worry about trying to think about the future. Instead, focus on the now — whether it’s day by day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute,” he said. “Just keep getting through the next few days as best you can, and we’ll be there to support and help you all the way through.”
For Kevin Garinger, the former president of the Humboldt Broncos, the fallout from the Manitoba crash will linger throughout the community.
“We know it’s not just the families that suffer the greatest loss, of course, but also those who will respond. The first responders and the others who, even after that, have had to re-map what happened and things like that,” he said.
“So many will be significantly affected by this and we just need to make sure we’re watching people through all of this.”
Ryan Straschnitzki was paralyzed from the chest down in the Humboldt crash.
One of 13 survivors, he said he and his former teammates will be there to support the families in Dauphin – now and in the future.
“The biggest piece of advice will be that things will get better. It will suck. It’s going to be a long process, but know that things will eventually get better,” he said.
As for Thomas, he said the kindness of the Canadians helped him through the grief.
His biggest piece of advice for Manitobans, shaken by the size and magnitude of the crash: be patient.
“Everyone wants answers now and everyone wants this to make sense. But that won’t happen for a long time. On some level, ours still doesn’t make sense.”