REGINA — It could be weeks or even months before police know why a truck was in a rural Saskatchewan intersection when it crashed with a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions and our investigators are committed to providing those answers,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said Thursday. “Complex collision reconstruction investigations take time and are often measured in weeks and months, rather than days.”
He said what is certain is that a tractor-trailer was in the intersection when the collision happened on April 6.
“All of our efforts are dedicated to determining why the tractor-trailer unit was in the intersection,” Zablocki said. “We know the road conditions were clear and the sun was shining at the time of the collision.”
Zablocki said experts are looking into three areas: environmental factors such as road conditions and visibility, the mechanics of both vehicles and the role of the drivers.
Sixteen people — including 10 players — were killed and another 13 people were injured. The driver of the semi-trailer was not hurt. He was taken into custody immediately after the collision and released later that evening.
“The tractor-trailer unit driver remains in regular contact with our officers,” said Zablocki.
He added that it’s too early to comment on if there will be any charges in the case.
Police said that over 50 interviews have taken place with some of the survivors, the driver, the driver’s company and witnesses. More interviews are scheduled in the coming days and weeks.
Zablocki said the driver’s level of experience, the size of his load and where he was headed will be part of the investigation.
Sukhmander Singh, the owner of the Calgary-based trucking company, said the truck driver is doing better.
“He’s feeling good now and going to the doctor,” said Singh, who added the driver is still in counselling.
Singh said he’s basically out of business after Alberta Transportation ordered Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. to keep its only other truck off the road. The move is standard when a company has been involved in a serious accident, the province has said.
“I’m just waiting for the investigation,” said Singh.
Police said they recovered driver log books along with engine control modules which have been taken to California for further analysis.
The intersection north of Saskatoon was closed Thursday because investigators were doing more tests and analysis.
Cpl. Doug Green, who works on the RCMP’s forensic collision reconstruction unit, said that a crash reconstruction wouldn’t happen on every case, but sometimes it can be helpful.
A dozen reconstruction specialists were at the crash site Thursday. The unit uses a variety of tools including GPS and drones.
The GPS system maps points that can be transferred to a specialized program for 2D and 3D viewing. The 3D data can be used to recreate the crash.
The drones allows investigators to get a different perspective of the scene.
Zablocki said it’s not unusual to revisit a collision scene.
“Our folks have gone back … to reposition similar or like vehicles in the area, in the intersection, and further examine potential site lines and other analytical aspects.”
— With files from Bill Graveland in Calgary. Follow @RyanBMcKenna on Twitter.
Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press