The Calgary truck driver involved in the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Justice Inez Cardinal delivered her sentence to Jaskirat Singh Sidhu in Melfort on Friday morning, describing a “catastrophic” collision.

Sidhu was sentenced to eight years for each of the 16 charges of dangerous driving causing death, to be served concurrently. He was also sentenced to five years for each of the 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, also served concurrently for a total of eight years in prison.

Impact of tragedy

“The impact of this tragedy will be felt by Canadians for years to come,” Justice Cardinal said while delivering her decision.

On Jan. 7, Sidhu pleaded guilty to all 29 charges related to the crash.

At a sentencing hearing later in January, an agreed statement of facts said Sidhu blew through a stop sign at the intersection, ignoring four warning signs, an oversized stop sign and flashing lights.

Cardinal acknowledged that Sidhu didn’t deliberately drive through the stop sign, but said he missed key indicators of a major intersection.

“Mr. Sidhu had ample time to react as he approached the intersection, had he been paying attention,” she said.

She added the collision was “avoidable,” saying it is “baffling” and incomprehensible” that Sidhu, as a professional driver, missed it.

He was travelling between 86 and 96 kilometres an hour at the time of the crash, court heard. The bus was unable to stop in time, t-boning the semi that was already in the intersection.

Another step in the healing process

Families of crash victims were in court on Friday. Many carried Broncos jerseys and put them on before Justice Cardinal delivered her sentence.

Kaleb Dahlgren’s father Mark said Sidhu’s sentence is “one more step” in the healing process. Kaleb suffered a brain injury in the crash.

“We have an anniversary coming up that is going to be very, very tough,” he added outside of court.

Chris Joseph, who lost his son Jaxon, said he is disappointed by the sentence.

“There’s no number that would have made me happy,” he said.

Adam Herold’s mother, Raelene, told reporters Sidhu’s sentence doesn’t change what happened.

“It was so senseless and preventable,” she said. “It’s not just us and our daughter. This is so far reaching, times 29.”

Sidhu’s family expressed sympathy for victims

Around a dozen of Sidhu’s family and friends were also present in the courtroom for the decision.

Sidhu’s uncle travelled to Melfort from London, England to hear Justice Cardinal deliver her sentence.

“On behalf of my family, I would like to express my sincere sympathy to the 29 families,” Chanan Singh Sidhu said. “We also feel indebted to the families and the Canadian public at large for the support, sympathy and understanding they have shown for my nephew and our families.”

Sidhu’s lawyer Mark Brayford didn’t speak to the media.

Remorse considered in judge’s sentence

Sidhu was driving a semi-truck loaded with peat moss when he collided with the Humboldt Broncos team bus at the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335 on April 6, 2018. Sixteen people were killed and 13 others injured in the crash.

Justice Cardinal said Sidhu’s remorse, guilty plea and psychological suffering impacted her decision to not hand him the maximum sentence of 14 years. But she said there were many aggravating factors, including the fact that he missed several signs approaching the intersection.

The sentence was precedent-setting, since there has been no case like this in Saskatchewan or Canadian history.

“Somehow we must stop this carnage on our highways,” Justice Cardinal said.

“The Crown trusts that this message will send a very strong message to everyone on our highways that criminal driving will not be tolerated,” Crown prosecutor Thomas Healey said.

Sidhu had been hired by Calgary-based company Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. about three weeks before the crash. He spent two weeks training with another driver before going out on a route on his own.

Broncos thankful for resolution

The Humboldt Broncos issued a statement after the crash saying the team is thankful that the case has been resolved and that Sidhu was held accountable for his actions in the crash.

“This past year has been extremely difficult,” President Jamie Brockman said in a written release. “Having this legal matter settled and the sentencing complete is a big step in the healing process for the survivors, grieving families, our organization and the community of Humboldt and surrounding area. The sentence is subject to varying opinions but what is important is that Mr. Sidhu plead guilty, has shown remorse and has remained accountable for his careless actions.”

The Broncos added they’re thankful to everyone who supported the team and everyone else affected by the crash.

With files from The Canadian Press

CTV's Ashley Field, Saron Fanel and Jill Macyshon are at court