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Truck driver charged in Broncos' crash

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The driver of a transport truck faces 29 criminal charges in a fatal collision that killed 16 people, including 10 players, with the Humboldt Broncos' junior hockey team.

Thirteen other players were injured.

RCMP said Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 29, is accused of dangerous driving causing death, as well as causing bodily injury.

He was arrested Friday morning and was being held in custody pending a court appearance in Saskatchewan this week.

“Mr. Sidhu was arrested without incident at his Calgary residence,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki told a news conference Friday in Regina.

Sidhu was charged exactly three months after the crash at a rural Saskatchewan intersection in the late afternoon of April 6.

The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game in Nipawin, Sask. when their bus and a semi-trailer carrying peat moss collided.

The truck driver was not hurt.

He was taken into custody after the crash but was released the same night.

RCMP said they won't release any details of the investigation or what they believe happened.

The only thing the Mounties have said to this point is that the truck was in the intersection when the collision occurred.

In April, police said they had recovered driver log books along with engine control modules that had been sent to California for further analysis.

RCMP Supt. Derek Williams said their probe was exhaustive and included 60 core investigators combing through records, interviewing five dozen witnesses, and using 3D technology to determine what happened.

“In order to lay these charges, we require evidence the motor vehicle was being operated in a manner that is dangerous to the public,” Williams said.

"We've looked at every aspect of the collision, including speed of the vehicles, point of impact, position of the vehicles, impairment, road and weather conditions, and witness evidence.

“Every piece of information was carefully examined,” he stressed.

Each of the 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

The 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm could garner 10 years each.

Tom Straschnitzki, whose son, Ryan, was paralyzed from the chest down, said he was relieved charges were laid.

“It's finally come to charges being laid so we are very happy about that because we don't want that to be ignored at all,” Straschnitzki told The Canadian Press.

"It should put a little closure to the first step and the second step is . . . let's see what the courts do and find out what exactly happened.

“I think that's what people want to know," he added. "What exactly happened? How it did happen and why it happened.”

Sukhmander Singh, owner of the Calgary-based trucking company that employed Sidhu, said in April that the driver was going to the doctor and receiving counselling.

Singh said he basically went out of business after the crash because Alberta Transportation ordered his company, Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., to keep its only other truck off the road.

On Friday, Alberta Transportation minister Brian Mason said ways to improve trucking safety could be announced within two weeks, and will include qualification and training of drivers of large vehicles, how to test drivers in all licence categories, and how better to regulate the trucking industry.

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