The mother of Jaxon Joseph, a former St. Albert Raiders player who died in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash last April, told the driver who caused the deadly crash she would never forgive him.
In an emotional address to the court in Melfort, Sask., Tuesday, Andrea Joseph called semi-truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu an "arrogant, inconsiderate monster."
"I will never forgive you. You don't deserve my forgiveness," she said.
Sidhu is in a makeshift courtroom in a Melfort gymnasium this week, where family and friends of the bus crash victims are reading out dozens of victim impact statements. The Calgary man has pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm in connection to the collision that happened near Tisdale on April 6, 2018.
In an agreed statement of facts presented in court Monday, Sidhu was found solely responsible for the crash that killed 16 people and injured 13 others.
A forensic collision report found Sidhu’s semi-trailer didn’t brake at the intersection of Highway 335 and 35 before the crash, despite numerous signs with flashing lights to warn drivers. The report also said Sidhu’s view of the intersection was not impeded by any environmental factors like trees near the road or sun in his eyes.
Andrea, a St. Albert resident, told Sidhu Tuesday that his actions were “selfish.”
Andrea and her husband Chris Joseph, a former NHL player, also asked the judge to set a precedent in sentencing the semi-truck driver.
“There needs to be a huge precedent set for the future of our communities,” Andrea said.
“I am a kind and loving person, but this mother is hurt and broken and shattered, and I promised Jaxon as he laid there on that cold, hard gurney that I would fight for him for the rest of his life. I would do anything for my baby.”
Andrea and Chris Joseph told the court about the impact the crash has had on their lives, detailing the days leading up to the tragedy and the desperate hours that followed.
Before the crash, the duo had travelled to Humboldt to watch Jaxon, 20, play a hockey game and Andrea met his girlfriend, Quinn, for the first time.
“We later found out that was the night that he said ‘I love you’ for the very first time to a beautiful young lady,” Chris said.
The next morning, the parents drove back to Edmonton, giving their son a hug and a kiss for what would be the last time.
On April 6, just before the family had planned to sit down and watch Jaxon’s last game of junior hockey online, they received a call that the team bus had been in an accident.
“Our hearts just dropped. Time just stopped. Our world crashed in,” Andrea said.
“I tried calling his cellphone over and over, leaving him desperate messages,” she told the court.
With no information about Jaxon's condition, the Joseph family, including his sister Taylor, packed their bags and drove to Saskatchewan.
“I hyperventilated all the way to Lloydminster,” Chris said.
The family had heard their 20-year-old son had been airlifted to a hospital, but they had no certainty or answers as they drove through the night on the cold winter Saskatchewan highways.
“The minutes and hours of not knowing were the hardest part,” Chris said.
They arrived in Saskatoon in the early hours of the morning. The next day, Chris and Taylor went to identify the body of a young man who may have been Jaxon. They searched the body for any familiar signs of their loved one but couldn't provide a positive ID.
It wasn't until Chris went to visit three surviving victims that he realized his son had not been transported to the hospital.
"Right there, that was my moment – the moment that I realized that my son was dead, that he was never taken to the hospital, that his body was still laying on the cold ground with a blanket over his face," he said.
“I now had to go back to the waiting room and confirm the worst news of our lives to our family.”
The next day, the Joseph family went to the funeral home to identify Jaxon's body. There were 14 victims to be identified and only six rooms available, so families had to identify their sons in shifts.
“They came back different. They were changed forever and I knew I would be, too.”
Today, Chris still carries Jaxon's socks, which he took off his son's feet that day at the funeral home – a decision he says was inspired by the family of fellow Broncos player Stephen Wack, who took a lock of his hair.
"You chose to gamble at that intersection and you lost. And worse yet, we all lost," he told Sidhu.
"I hope some day you can find peace. I hope some day I can find forgiveness."