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Family and friends mourn 15 killed in Canadian bus crash

By Jeremy Hainsworth

Family and friends have gathered at an ice hockey arena to mourn 15 people killed after a lorry crashed into a bus carrying a youth team in western Canada.

Fourteen were also injured, some critically, in a collision that has devastated the town of Humboldt, Saskatchewan.

The bus had 29 passengers when it crashed at about 5pm on Friday on Highway 35, police said. Among the dead are Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan, team captain Logan Schatz and radio announcer Tyler Bieber.

Residents of the town of less than 6,000 have been leaving flowers, team jerseys and personal tributes on the steps of the arena's entrance, forming a makeshift memorial.

One tribute included a Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner box, which was a favourite meal of victim Evan Thomas. A bouquet of pink roses adorned the box, which read "to Evan, game day special, love your billet brother and sister Colten and Shelby".

While most of the players were from elsewhere in western Canada, they were put up by families in the small town of Humboldt. Billeting families is a large part of junior ice hockey, with players spending years with host families.

Dennis Locke, his wife and three young children came to the arena to hang posters of forward Jaxon Joseph, who is the son of former NHL player Chris Joseph. The Locke family housed Joseph and treated him like a son.

"Best person ever," Mr Locke said. "Down to earth, loved playing with the kids."

Forward Logan Hunter and defencemen Stephen Wack, Adam Herold and Xavier Labelle were also among the dead, according to family members and others.

Assistant coach Mark Cross, bus driver Glen Doerksen and stats keeper Brody Hinz, who was 18, were also killed.

Herold, who would have turned 17 on Thursday, played for the Regina Pat Canadians hockey team until just weeks ago, but was sent to join the Broncos for their play-off round when the Pat Canadians' season wrapped up, said John Smith, the Pat Canadians' manager.

Norman Mattock, a long-time season ticket holder, said his neighbour housed player Morgan Gobeil. The defenceman was severely injured and remains in a serious but stable condition, Mr Mattock said.

He said players become part of the community fabric, doing volunteer work or serving in restaurants. Three players who were billeted by the same family all died in the crash, he added.

The Broncos are a close-knit team who dyed their hair blond for the play-offs. The bus was driving the team to a crucial play-off game on Friday against the Nipawin Hawks.

"We're devastated," said hockey club vice president Randolph MacLean. "At the centre of this, we have 15 souls who'll never go home again.

"We have 29 lives that will never be the same."

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