Father of Broncos bus crash victim says deporting semi-driver responsible would 'increase the suffering'
SASKATOON -- Nearly three years after losing his son Evan in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, Scott Thomas has written a letter in support of the semi-driver who was responsible, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu.
Sidhu drove through a stop sign near Tisdale, Sask. and collided with the Humboldt Broncos team bus in April 2018, killing 16 people and injuring 13 others.
Sidhu, who holds permanent resident status, was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm.
He's awaiting a decision from the Canadian Border Services Agency on whether he will be deported when his sentence is over.
Thomas says the results of Sidhu’s actions were criminal and violent, but he doesn’t believe that should lead to him being deported.
“I think the deportation of Mr. Sidhu just goes to increase the suffering to him and his family, and other people that were involved,” he said.
“He did everything he could to minimize the impact to the families through all this, and then in the end he took a sentence and he’s serving it like a man.”
The letter follows a series of exchanges between Thomas and Sidhu’s family, born out of empathy, which Thomas said is helping both families heal.
Thomas said about a year and a half ago, a mutual colleague who deals with road safety in Canada and had been in contact with Sidhu and his wife Tanvir, reached out with a request.
“[Sidhu’s family was in] a pretty tough place, and how if our family could find it in our hearts to communicate with them a little bit, it might help them out,” said Thomas, who says he’s exchanged “four or five emails” with the Sidhus since then.
“I don't know if we'd call it consistent communication, but we've communicated a little bit with them,” he said. “At one point [Tanvir] asked us if we would consider writing a letter to support his application to stay in Canada, and we said ‘Yes, for sure, have your lawyer get in contact with us.'"
Thomas isn’t sure whether his letter will have any sort of impact on the eventual deportation decision, but said there’s no question the communication has helped Sidhu, who is a “broken man, psychologically, spiritually."
“He's in a pretty tough place, and I have no doubt about that,” he said.
“His wife is genuinely thankful, and he's genuinely thankful that we've expressed some concern for him and that we've communicated our forgiveness to him, and found a place to advocate for his well being, if you will, going forward. I know for a fact that we're having a good effect on his health.”
The exchange, Thomas said, has also helped with his own family’s healing journey.
“It has allowed us to focus our energies, I think, more on Evan’s legacy, and not being anchored down by the negative emotions that could come from it,” he said.
“This will be a part of our life for the rest of our lives, absolutely, and Jaskirat Sidhu will be a part of my core for the rest of my life. But I don't want him to be a factor in the rest of my life.
“Forgiving, and moving on, and just being at rest with that I'm doing the best that I can in our family and doing the best that we can to create a positive situation, and do what we can to support our son's legacy. It's definitely helped us move forward.”