Vigil honours bus crash victims

Thousands gathered to remember 15 people who died when the Humboldt Broncos' bus crashed late last week and heard a heart-rending recollection from the team chaplain who happened upon the gruesome scene and heard sounds of the dying.

``We travelled up and arrived at the scene ... and walked up on a scene I never want to see again,'' Pastor Sean Brandow told a vigil held Sunday night in the Saskatchewan junior hockey team's home arena. ``To sounds I never want to hear again.''

He said he felt at a loss as emergency crews worked to save those they could. And then it got worse.

``To go to the hospital and walk around and just hear groaning and panic and fear and distress and pain and just nothing but darkness,'' he said.

``To sit and hold the hand of a lifeless body ... This is the valley of darkness. All I saw was darkness and hurt and anguish and fear and confusion. And I had nothing. Nothing. I'm a pastor, I'm supposed to have something.''

Brandow encouraged those gathered to lean on their faith as they struggle to deal with the tragedy.

People laid flowers in a circle around centre ice in the rink as family and friends of players listened to prayers and hymns.

Pictures of the dead and injured were placed on stands at one end of the arena.

Nick Shumlanski, the only one of the 14 injured in the crash to be released from hospital, attended the vigil wearing his white, green and yellow team jersey, an obvious bruise under his left eye.

The Humboldt Broncos were on their way to a playoff game Friday in Nipawin when the bus carrying the team collided with a semi.

Sunday's vigil took place the same night as Game 6 was scheduled to be played with the Nipawin Hawks in the Humboldt rink. There was a moment of silence at the time the game was supposed to start.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the vigil along with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. Trudeau visited survivors of the crash in a Saskatoon hospital earlier in the day.