Important questions surrounding the site where at least 15 persons perished in a bus crash in central Saskatchewan need to be answered now before focus is turned away from this tragedy.
It is now known internationally that a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team came into collision with a tractor-trailer at the intersection of Saskatchewan Highways 35 and 335 approximately 30 kilometres north of Tisdale, Saskatchewan on April 6, 2018. Of the 29 persons on-board the bus 15 have now been officially counted as deceased and the rest have been injured. The truck driver was reportedly uninjured.
While the families, friends and even strangers are shocked by the magnitude of this tragedy, focus has to be placed on the objective facts of how and why this occurred and essentially nothing of substance has been revealed. Even the general layout of the crash scene was not provided in any photos except for closer views of the two vehicles at their rest positions.
Progressively it became clear that the two vehicles were involved in a crash at the intersection of two highways, Saskatchewan Highways 35 and 335. Study of the vehicle final rest positions indicates that the truck travelled further from the intersection than the bus and given the truck’s rest position the most likely scenario is that it was westbound on Highway 335 and passed through the stop sign for its direction of travel. Similarly, the most probable travel direction for the bus would be northbound on Highway 35 and this would be consistent with its reported travel destination of Nipawin where a hockey was to take place that evening.
The Google Maps view below shows a general view of the scenario as presently believed to be accurate according to Gorski Consulting analysis.
If these facts are accurate then one must study the grouping of trees and brush on the south-east quadrant of the intersection to determine whether their blockage of the line of sight was inappropriate. Generally, this appropriateness is defined by establishing a “visibility triangle” created by the expected approach speeds of the vehicles and ensuring that the vegetation is cut back within the defined triangle. This issue may be discussed at another time.
What raises some questions is what has been found from a Google Maps view of the site shown in May of 2013.
Shown below is a Google Maps Street View image looking south-east of the intersection at an area of the east roadside, just south of the intersection. Two facts become apparent.
Number one, note that there is a flashing beacon attached to the post which holds the stop sign in the foreground. Such flashing beacons do not exist at every intersection. They become installed because someone has made a decision the traffic situation required the installation of this beacon. We ask readers to consider what traffic situations would have to exist that the installation of this beacon was required?
Number two, note in the background of the above photo that there is a grouping of white crosses erected on the east roadside of Highway 35. The image below provides a better view of those crosses.
Our question is: Why do these crosses exist? What is typically implied by the erection of such crosses?
We will not provide any further comment at this time.
UPDATE: April 8, 2018; 1740 Hours
It has taken us aback as there was actually an analytical media article provided by the National Post newspaper “Staff” with photos of the site attributed to Jonathan Hayward of the Canadian Press posted earlier this afternoon that provided similar comments about the findings at the intersection as we posted here. While sarcasm seems inappropriate in the wake of this terrible tragedy it is all we can muster when we observe the lack of inquiry into how this collision occurred and why it occurred.
The National Post filled in some blanks that we could not fill with respect to the crosses at the southeast quadrant of the intersection. The National Post indicated that the crosses related to the deaths of 6 persons in 1997.
The National Post article focused readers attention to the grouping of trees at the southeast quadrant and referred to the “limiting of visibility on both approaches to the intersection”.
The National Post article also focused its readers to the flashing beacons above the stop signs while also not commenting further.
What we are also impressed about is the National Post staff actually focused it readers on a troubling fact that we also observed but had not yet mentioned. The front of the bus was essentially “obliterated”, the term used by the Staff. What an incredible observation from journalists who are not experts in crash reconstruction. Furthermore this “Staff” also showed a closer view of the front end of the truck demonstrating that there was almost no crush at its front end and the driver was reportedly not physically injured. These are incredible observations that are educational to the National Post’s readers and we are amazed that this was actually posted.
Now, further about this issue of structural integrity that the National Post introduced. When two vehicles collide the force between them is shared. This is a re-phrasing of Newton’s 2nd law of motion. Those shared forces are equal and opposite. So the impact force that the truck experienced is also the impact force that the bus experienced. Does something not look right here? Look at the photos of the damage to the front end of the bus and look at the front end of the truck. The front end of the truck looks essentially undamaged, while the bus front end has been obliterated. Does that make any sense? Would you like to be the occupant of the vehicle that became obliterated? So where are the questions from the rest of the world, other than the National Post. Why is only one, single, news entity on this planet was able to form these important observations?
As we indicated earlier, there are important questions that need to be answered in this terrible crash. And there have been numerous important questions that needed to be answered in many previous incidents that we have tried to illuminate many times before, but never quite as horrific as in the present case. While we spill our sorrow can we also not act to undercover why these innocent persons had to die? Is that too much to ask of all of us?
Bus structures have been failing on numerous occasions without anyone saying a word of concern. Our failure to act on those previous occasions may well have contributed to the present tragedy.
But we need more facts. And we should demand more facts. We need to know how much of the damage seen on the bus is related to emergency personnel work to free and triage the occupants. But this stone must not be left unturned.
Thank you National Post Staff for being the only ones to turn on a light in this very dark room.