Tributes have been paid to victims of the horrific ice hockey team bus crash in Canada as the death toll sadly rose to 15.
Humboldt Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan and captain Logan Schatz were named among those killed in the tragedy, which has sent shockwaves through the country.
A total of 28 people, including the driver, were on board the junior team bus when it collided with a lorry in Saskatchewan province on Friday evening.
Horrifically, more than half lost their lives. It is feared that most of the victims were children on their way to a match in Saskatchewan.
Head coach Darcy Haugan was among those killed in the tragedy, his sister confirmed on Twitter.
She posted: "My brother didn’t make it", adding that he was her "hero".
Darcy’s grieving niece Sarah also took to the social network to pay tribute to her uncle, who "loved people and loved his family".
She wrote: "His loss will affect so many. Until I see you again, Uncle Darcy forever Humboldt Broncos head coach."
Team captain, Logan Schatz, was also identified among those who lost their lives.
The 20-year-old’s father, Kelly Schatz, told The Canadian Press his son played for the Broncos for just over four years, and had served as team captain for the past two-and-a-half.
He said his son’s death is hard and the family is seeking solace in one another.
Fellow players Adam Herold, 16, Logan Hunter, 18, Jaxon Joseph, 20, and Stephen Wack, 21, were also named among the victims.
Distraught parents have been left desperately waiting for news about their kids following the crash, which occurred on Highway 35.
One heartbroken mum, Michelle Straschnitzki, said her son, Ryan Straschnitzki, has been hospitalised and can’t feel his lower body.
Speaking to Global News via phone, she said: "He’s groggy and he’s got, apparently, lower body issues… he can’t feel the lower body."
She added: "It was a horrific crash and it was devastating."
Another woman, Rhonda Clarke Tobin, tweeted that a young man called Parker – believed to be her son – had also been involved in the smash.
She wrote: "This is one of the hardest posts I have ever had to make. Parker is stable at the moment and being airlifted to Saskatoon hospital.
"Thank you all for your kind words and messages."
She added: "Please continue to pray for his Humboldt family."
On Saturday, a moving image was shared showing three of the surviving hockey players holding hands in their hospital beds.
In the tear-jerking image, player Derek Patter can be seen lying in a bed at Saskatoon Hospital, alongside two of his teammates.
The boys are on drips and one of them is fitted with a neck brace – with the gravity of the crash clearly etched on all of their faces.
The picture was shared on Twitter by Derek’s dad, who wrote: "Derek Grayson and Nick bonding and healing in hospital."
The team were on their way to play the Nipawin Hawks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) at the time of the disaster.
The players are thought to be aged between 16 and 21 years old.
In a statement, the Broncos said: "The Humboldt Broncos organization has experienced incredible tragedy. While en route to Nipawin, the Broncos bus was involved in a terrible accident which has resulted in multiple fatalities and serious injuries."
Team president, Kevin Garinger, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the families of our staff and athletes as well as to all who have been impacted by this horrible tragedy. Our Broncos family is in shock as we try to come to grips with our incredible loss.”
The collision occurred on the highway, about 30 kilometres north of Tisdale, near Highway 335, at around 5pm local time.
It prompted a major response from the emergency services, with three air ambulances dispatched to help dozens of police and ambulances on the ground.
Early on Saturday morning, the Nipawin Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said 28 people were on the bus, 14 of whom were killed.
The death toll was later revised to 15
The RCMP said in a statement: "We are not confirming the identity of the victims at this time, including whether the deceased are players or coaches.
"We will be working with our partner agencies to ensure families are notified as soon as possible and the appropriate supports are provided to families and others who are impacted by this extremely tragic incident."
Following the tragedy, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau retweeted a message of condolence from his Minister of Safety.
He added: "I cannot imagine what these parents are going through, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, in the Humboldt community and beyond."
US President Donald Trump said in a Twitter post that he had spoken with Trudeau "to pay my highest respect and condolences to the families of the terrible Humboldt Team tragedy. May God be with them all!"
Meanwhile, Scott Moe, premier of the Saskatchewan region, said yesterday: "Words can not describe the loss that we feel tonight.
"From a grieving province, thank you to first responders & medical professionals for courageous response under the most difficult circumstances imaginable.
"Tonight, we all must pray for these families."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for the victims’ relatives. So far, more than $28,000 has already been raised.
The Broncos had been due to play Game 5 of their SJHL semifinal series against the Hawks when they were involved in the smash.
In a statement on Facebook last night, the Hawks posted: "Tonight’s game is Cancelled. The accident being talked about involved Humboldt team bus. We ask during this time that you don’t send messages.
"When more information is given we will update."
The team’s president, Darren Opp, told The Globe and Mail: "It’s a horrible accident, my God… it’s very, very bad.”
He added: “There’s uncles and moms and dads waiting to hear whether their sons and nephews are OK.
"It’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible.”
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