Jaskirat Singh Sidhu made a brief appearance in a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death as well as 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, meaning there will be no trial.
Sentencing will begin on Jan 28. Sidhu faces maximum sentences of 14 years for dangerous driving causing death and 10 years for dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Sidhu did not speak as he left the court but his lawyer, Mark Brayford, read a prepared statement to reporters.
“I asked him what his position was,” Brayford said. “And his position to me was, ‘I just want to plead guilty. I don’t want you to plea bargain, I don’t want a trial.’ Mr. Sidhu advised me, ‘I don’t want to make things any worse. I can’t make things any better, but I certainly won’t want to make them worse by having a trial.'”
Brayford said Sidhu wanted people to know that he was “devastated” and he wanted the families impacted to know “he’s devastated by the grief that he’s caused them.” Brayford added that Sidhu is “overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and kindness that some of the families and players have expressed to him, in spite of the fact that grief is entirely his fault.”
On April 6, the Broncos — a junior hockey team of 16-to-21-year-olds — were on a bus en route to a playoff game when they collided with Sidhu’s truck, which was carrying peat moss. Sixteen people – including 10 players and the team’s head coach- were killed and another 13 players were injured.
Sidhu, 29, was arrested in July at his home in Calgary following a lengthy investigation. Sidhu was not hurt in the crash.
The tragedy reverberated across the hockey community – and internationally. A GoFundMe account collecting funds for the Humboldt team raised more than $15 million in less than two weeks, as more than 140,000 people donated from more than 80 countries. It is the second-largest GoFundMe campaign globally, trailing only the $21.5 million raised for the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. The money raised will be split among the 29 families affected.