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Authorities mixed up the identities of two players involved in the bus crash involving members of the Humboldt Broncos that killed 15 people, a spokesman for Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice told Canadian Press.
Drew Wilby said Monday that officials at the coroner’s office misidentified the body of Parker Tobin, 18, for that of Xavier Labelle.
Labelle is injured but alive, Wilby said. Tobin is among the 15 who were killed when the bus carrying the junior hockey team to a playoff game in northeastern Saskatchewan collided with a tractor-trailer Friday.
Saskatchewan authorities say families of misidentified Humboldt hockey players have been notified. Xavier Labelle initially named as one of the fatalities; in fact, player killed is 18-year-old Parker Tobin, pictured below. (Photo courtesy Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League). pic.twitter.com/e8pGpNR2kG— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) April 9, 2018
Wilby said the coroner’s office followed standard procedure to identify the victim, but the mixup occurred because the players had all dyed their hair blond, were around the same age and had the same athletic build, Canadian Press reported.
Over the weekend, Tobin’s family had tweeted that the goalie was alive .
“This is one of the hardest posts I have ever had to make,” Rhonda Clarke Tobin wrote Saturday. “Parker is stable at the moment and being airlifted to Saskatoon hospital. Thank you all for your kind words and messages. Please continue to pray for his Humboldt family.”
Labelle's family had confirmed his death over the weekend before the mistake was revealed.
Wilby said dental records are the best way to make an identification, but would take days to track down because the players lived in different areas of western Canada, Canadian Press reported.
Wilby said the mistake was “unprecedented,” adding that the families affected have been very understanding.
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. Please continue to pray for his Humboldt family.— Rhonda Clarke Tobin (@clarketobin) April 7, 2018
Humboldt Mayor Rob Muench called it “an unfortunate mistake.”
“It’s hard to comprehend that,” he told The Associated Press.
Broncos club President Kevin Garinger said he was contacted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police early Monday.
“At this point, I just want to reach out and support the families,” Garinger told the AP. “It’s not about understanding anything.”
Fourteen people also were injured in the collision.
A vigil for those killed was held at the team’s home arena and was attended by thousands, Canadian Press reported.
Among those attending was Nick Shumlanski, the first player released from hospital.
On Sunday night, he tweeted out a statement saying the support he's received has been helpful.
"Although reality hasn't really set in yet, it is truly devastating to have lost so many close friends, brothers and amazing coaches. Times are tough right now but the support you all have shown is so amazing," he wrote.