On April 6, 2018, sixteen people were killed and thirteen were injured when a northbound coach bus struck a westbound semi-trailer truck near Armley, Saskatchewan, Canada. The driver of the semi-trailer had failed to yield at a flashing stop sign at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335. The semi-trailer was travelling at a speed of approximately 100 km/h (60 mph). Most of the dead and injured were players from the Humboldt Broncos, a junior ice hockey team from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, which plays in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). One of the players was Brandon Bieber's brother, Tyler. Years after the accident, Brandon finally feels his personal tribute to his brother is complete.
Ten players died in the crash. Adam Herold, Connor Lukan, Evan Thomas, Jacob Leicht, Jaxon Joseph, Logan Boulet, Logan Hunter, Logan Schatz, Stephen Wack and Parker Tobin were all killed. The players were all from Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Broncos personnel Brody Hinz, Darcy Haugen, Glen Doerksen, Mark Cross and Tyler Bieber also died in the crash.
"It all started when I thought of getting a tattoo, which led to me doodling trying to think of an idea," said Brandon Bieber, the surviving brother of Humboldt Broncos player Tyler Bieber. "Before the accident I didn't have tattoos or want any. People found weird because I am very artsy and have drew several designs for friends. My joke was always, 'would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?' No no you wouldn't lol."
"At first it was the bronco symbol with Tyler Bieber in the middle instead of Humboldt Broncos. My mom received a gift from a friend with a silhouette cartoon portrait and I decided that was exactly what I wanted," Brandon told the West Island News in an exchange.
"The tattoo artist sent me the original picture and that was it. I drove all the way to Winnipeg to get my first tattoo. I was really nervous because a portrait is a tough thing to do.But 3.5 hours later a beautiful realistic portrait I was blown away. That was going to be it."
Still not quite right....
"After some time I started to feeling almost selfish I guess a portrait of my brother with Tyler Bieber instead of Humboldt broncos and I felt I needed to include the rest of the team. So I got my pencil out and started designing my next tattoo."
"The broncos symbol with the coat of arms and tiger Lilly's. To include the team and my home province Saskatchewan . I have lived in Cold Lake so I thought it was fitting to get my next tattoo there. I submitted my drawing to the artist and came out with another beautiful tattoo."
"Some more months went by and I felt I needed to personalize it more. I got out my pencil again and started designing the stars to look kinda like hockey jerseys with the initial of coaching staff, media, driver and the number of each player who passed. Sixteen stars all around. Next I wanted clouding to tie it all in. I went back again in Cold Lake and got it all clouded in to make it look like one tatto. I was super happy with it."
"I said I never wanted tattoos prior to the accident. Now I have this big tattoo covering my whole left shoulder. Then came another vision clouding in the other side with heavens gate and a banner with the date. Humboldt ink had opened and I was like how fitting would that be to finish it up in Humboldt . So I sent a picture of what I wanted and he drew out this beautiful design and another two sessions later. I was finally done. I finished this vision I had and couldn't be happier."
A virtual tribute to mark the third anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash took place on April 6, 2021. The service from St. Augustine Catholic Church was livestreamed on the city of Humboldt’s Facebook page.
It involved lighted candles and tolling church bells, followed by a moment of silence at 4:50 p.m., about the time the crash occurred.
The mayor has deemed today ‘2017-18 Humboldt Broncos Day’ and would like to see that continued every April 6.