The owner of the Calgary-based trucking company involved in the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan has pleaded guilty to five charges, admitting he failed to comply with federal and provincial safety regulations.
Ten days before the one-year anniversary of the accident, Sukhmander Singh, owner and director of Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., admitted he failed to follow the rules under both the Motor Vehicle Transport Act and the Alberta Traffic Safety Act.
Singh was originally charged with eight counts include failing to maintain proper log books and failing to implement safety programs.
Sixteen people were killed and 13 injured after the Adesh-owned semi driven by Jaskirat Singh Sidhu blew through a stop sign at a rural highway intersection and collided with the bus.
Singh was not in court for the pleas; instead, he was represented by lawyer Sadaf Raja. He was fined $1,000 for each offence with provincial court Judge Sean Dunnigan imposing a total $5,000 fine after a joint submission from Raja and prosecutor Deanna Smyth.
“Is this the end of the road in this very sad story?” asked provincial court Judge Sean Dunnigan as he imposed a $1,000 fine for each offence, for a total of $5,000.
Singh ‘wants to take responsibility’
The offence dates include the six months leading up to, but not including, the April 6, 2018, accident, which occurred when the Broncos hockey team’s bus was heading to a playoff game in Nipawin.
“He wants to take responsibility,” said Raja of her client’s pleas.
Still, Smyth reminded the court that failing to comply with safety regulations “can lead to very serious consequences if they’re not followed.”
Singh’s charges were announced by the provincial government last October, following a months-long investigation by Alberta Transportation.
On Wednesday, Smyth read some of the facts of the case aloud as part of the guilty plea negotiated with Raja.
The investigation revealed in the months leading to the crash that Singh was missing a total of 27 daily logs for his own driving. Sidhu was missing two daily logs between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2018, while a third driver had no missing logs.
“There is no evidence that Mr. Singh had a monitoring process to ensure each driver providing one daily log,” said Smyth.
Singh’s guilty pleas come just days after Sidhu was sentenced to eight years in prison. He pleaded guilty in January to 29 counts of dangerous driving causing death or injury.
In contrast, Singh’s convictions — which are not criminal but rather fall under provincial and federal regulations — come with fines capped at $5,000.