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After A Deadly Bus Crash, Musician's Emotional Tribute Goes Viral

Canadian Post / Jay Smith - Facebook

People around the world are paying tribute to a town of just 6,000 people from Saskatchewan, Canada in the wake of a deadly bus crash.

Even if you're not from Canada, by now you've probably heard of the tragic accident that claimed the lives of several players on the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.

It's a small-town tragedy that has attracted attention across the planet - mainly because hockey-lovers everywhere have had their hearts broken by the news.

As tributes pour in for the young players who lost their lives, a song inspired by the accident is getting the most attention.

The Crash

Humboldt Broncos Crash
The scene of the accident.Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

The Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team - 29 people in all including coaches, athletic trainers and stat keepers - were riding their bus through rural Saskatchewan on their way to a hockey game last week.

At a quiet intersection outside of the tiny town of Tisdale, the bus struck a tractor-trailer and both vehicles were destroyed.

While the driver of the tractor-trailer survived the accident, 16 of the people onboard the bus were killed, including all of the team's coaches.

Humboldt Broncos
The Humboldt Broncos pose in a photo from the team's website.Humboldt Broncos

The other 13 people were injured, and this week a dozen of the survivors are still in hospital, with three of them in critical condition.

Searching for Answers

Canadian officials are still investigating the accident, and no charges have been laid.

But at the intersection, the bus would have had right of way while the truck was behind a stop sign.

Humboldt Broncos crash
A cross made from hockey sticks at the site of the accident.Jonathan Hayward / Canadian Press

The same intersection was the site of another deadly accident 21 years ago, which left six people dead.

Investigators say that the truck driver involved in the crash was a rookie, who had completed his 15-day training just two weeks before the accident.

His trucking company, Adesh Deol, has had its license suspended as the investigation continues.

But as investigators continue to look for clues, tributes for the hockey team have poured in from around the world.

Prayers for Humboldt

Since the accident last week, condolences and tributes to the Humboldt Broncos have come from countries around the world.

Prayers for Humboldt sign.
A sign in Humboldt, Saskatchewan.Liam Richards / Canadian Press

Flags were lowered, townspeople wore the team's jerseys out of respect, and flowers were donated in the team's colors - green, white and yellow - from around the world.

A local florist told Global News she had received orders from the United States, and even as far away as Australia.

Humboldt Broncos flowers.
Flowers outside the team's home arena in Humboldt.Liam Richards / Canadian Press

"It’s people with heavy hearts, just wanting to do something, anything for the families, for the community," she explained.

People across Canada have also been leaving hockey sticks on their porch at night, as a silent but visible tribute to the late hockey players.

Hockey stick
A hockey stick left out overnight to honor the crash victims.K. Rawlick-Gordon / Twitter

Flowers were even left on the players's cars at the town's Elgar Petersen Arena, where they had departed from on their fatal trip.

Humboldt Broncos flowers.
Flowers left on the cars of the crash victims in Humboldt.Elizabeth Cameron / StarMetro Calgary

At NHL hockey games following the accident, players from opposing stood together for a moment of silence to honor the Broncos.

Humboldt Broncos NHL
NHL - Twitter

Even world leaders have paid tribute to the team in the wake of the disaster.

Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, attended a memorial service for the accident victims last weekend.

Queen Elizabeth II and President Donald Trump also shared their condolences on Twitter.

Donald Trump
President Trump paid tribute to the team on Twitter.realDonaldTrump / Twitter

A Light in the Darkness

One of the more uplifting stories to come from the tragedy is the late Logan Boulet's.

Logan Boulet.
Boulet's death caused a nationwide spike in organ donor registrations.SJHL

The 21-year-old player was an organ donor, and his death has caused an incredible spike in organ donor registration across Canada.

In Boulet's home province of Alberta, registrations for organ donation were over seven times higher than usual in the weekend following the accident.

Boulet's father told CTV News that his son's decision was inspired by one of his coaches, and that the young hockey player was "a giver, not a taker."

It's heartwarming that even such a dark cloud includes a silver lining like this.

And the accident also inspired a Canadian musician to write a song that's going viral this week.

"I just had to write it and get it out of my head"

Jay Smith from Kingston, Ontario felt a strong connection to the Humboldt Broncos crash for a number of reasons.

He told the CBC that as "a Canadian, as a father, as a person who grew up around hockey," he felt haunted by the deadly accident.

While thousands of Canadians and hockey fans around the world have honored the Broncos in their own way, Smith's tribute was unique.

This is the first I’ve been able to get anything out of myself about what happened. My heart goes to every single person involved in this awful accident. I love you all. Just recorded this everyone in the house is sleeping so I tried to be quiet but I had to sit and write this and get it out of my heart. Love Smitty. #humboldtyourloved

Posted by Smitty Kingston on Monday, April 9, 2018

The musician, who goes by Smitty Kingston online, wrote a song honoring the 16 people who lost their lives in the crash.

"I kind of just tagged it as 'Humboldt strong, and leave a stick out by the door,'" Smith explained.

"I just had to write it and get it out of my head."

The song obviously meant a lot to hockey fans, because it has racked up over a million views in less than a week.

Smith was surprised by his viral fame, but says he just wanted to honor the young players who died, and help their families find piece.

"[I've] travelled on the bus with my teammates and friends and done all of the same things and yes, it just kind of hits home real big."

Love and Hockey

The viral drawing includes the Humboldt Broncos and the late Jonathan Pitre.Kerry MacGregor

Another popular tribute to the Broncos is a drawing by author Kerry MacGregor, which connects two tragic Canadian news stories from the past week.

In her drawing, the late hockey players are seen in their hockey gear, welcoming Jonathan Pitre to heaven.

Jonathan Pitre
Jonathan Pitre and his mother Tina Boileau at an NHL hockey game.Tina Boileau - Facebook

Pitre received worldwide attention for his painful condition, epidermolysis bullosa, which made his skin extremely fragile and brittle.

Known as "the butterfly boy" because his skin was like a butterfly's wings, Pitre was a fan of the Ottawa Senators NHL team.

Like Smith, MacGregor said she needed to draw the heartwarming image as a way of dealing with her grief over the accident.

"I decided I had to get the idea out of my brain and put it on paper, and then maybe I’d be able to go back to my regular job," she explained.

The families of the accident victims and crash survivors are raising money, including to support medical and funeral expenses.

So far more than $8 million has been raised in less than a week.

You can donate to the fund and support Humboldt on GoFundMe. #PrayersForHumboldt

[H/T: The Globe and Mail, CBC, Global News]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com