Mother of deceased Humboldt Bronco makes plea to change seatbelt laws

Stephen and Tricia Wack. (Photo supplied to National Post)

The mother of one of the 16 victims lost in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash is making a plea for change.

Tricia Wack lost her 21-year-old son Stephen in April after a semi-truck collided with the junior hockey team’s bus on its way to a playoff game in northern Saskatchewan. In all, 16 were killed — including players, coaches, a trainer, a team statistician and the bus driver — and another 13 were injured.

Like many busses on the road in North America today, there were no shoulder harness seatbelts on board the one Stephen and his Broncos teammates were riding on — only lap ones that are not mandated by law to be worn. Wack is hoping to play a part in changing that.

In a column in the National Post on Saturday, the mother of the former Broncos defenceman put out a plea for people in all vehicles to always wear seatbelts.

“In response to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, people across our nation have united in love and support. We have felt that; we have found healing and strength in that,” wrote Wack.

“And because of that, we now have a voice. I would like to use that voice to unite our nation in enacting positive change, so that the legacy of my son and those on the Broncos bus that fateful day will be carried forward. Let’s buckle up for the Broncos.”

Wack wants to put particular focus on saving lives of people who travel in large, unsecured vehicles like coach busses, tour busses, school busses and trains. All of which aren’t required by law to feature shoulder harness seatbelts — nor is the passenger incentivized in any way to wear them, even when they are available.

“I would like to address the need for shoulder harness seatbelts on all coach buses in Canada, along with the need for legislation making it compulsory to wear those seatbelts.”

“My son Stephen was killed in the Broncos bus crash when he was launched from his seat upon impact, smashing the back of his head and breaking his neck. Envision for a moment, if you will, that being your child or loved one,” she wrote.

“Following the results of the investigation into the crash, we were shocked to learn that there were, in fact, lap seatbelts on that bus. Seatbelts left unworn were rendered useless. While the crash scene depicts devastation, look more closely and you will see the majority of bus seats intact. What would the outcome have been if the team had been wearing shoulder harness seatbelts that day?”

In her letter, Wack notes that the Canadian government has recently taken a small step in the right direction by enacting legislation making seatbelts mandatory on all highway buses built after Sept. 1, 2020. It won’t matter how many seatbelts are on how many busses, however, if there is no requirement for the passenger to buckle up.

Wack is making a plea to, “enact law to empower bus drivers and those in authority on buses to facilitate the wearing of those bus belts.”

“I cannot say whether the wearing of seatbelts on the Broncos bus that day would have saved lives or limited injury of any of the 29 passengers. But what if a seatbelt had saved even one life? And what if that one life was your son. Your daughter. Your loved one.”