Mourners comfort each other during a vigil at the Elgar Petersen Arena, home of the Humboldt Broncos, to honour the victims of a fatal bus accident in Humboldt
By Katherine Fitzpatrick
HUMBOLDT, Saskatchewan (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend a vigil at a small farming town in Saskatchewan province on Sunday evening to mourn the survivors of a bus crash which killed 15 people and left 14 others in hospital.
The Friday night accident sent shock waves across a hockey-loving nation, devastated the Humboldt Broncos ice hockey team and plunged the community of fewer than 6,000 people into grief.
Trudeau will attend the vigil, his office said on Sunday. Canada's Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale will join him.
Former National Hockey League (NHL) player Sheldon Kennedy tweeted that he would be in Humboldt on Sunday evening to support players and families, along with former players Bob Wilkie and Peter Soberlak.
Kennedy was on board a bus involved in another fatal crash in 1986, in which four members of the Swift Current Broncos were killed.
Friday's crash happened while the Humboldt Broncos junior ice hockey team was traveling to a league playoff game in the town of Nipawin, about 200 km (125 miles) northeast of Humboldt.
The bus collided with a semi-trailer truck. Canadian police are looking into road, weather and vehicle conditions.
For the prairies community of Humboldt, ice hockey is a sport that unifies the town and gives it its identity, bringing home two national championships.
Townspeople and team supporters gathered at the local Uniplex sports and education complex to comfort each other. An online fund-raising initiative to help the victims' families has raised C$3.05 million ($2.4 million).
Rob Eichorst, the team's governor, said Sunday's interdenominational vigil was organized by local religious leaders "for healing of the community, the hockey team, the province, the country."
"There's no playbook on how to handle this," Eichorst said. "People are bringing food ... We've got multinational companies helping us, we've got national companies offering stuff. The support is overwhelming and truly appreciated."
He estimated 300 to 400 people had gathered at the complex on Friday evening. Grief counselors were on hand and the Red Cross was providing support to players' families as well as the families who billet players.
($1 = 1.2778 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Katherine Fitzpatrick in HUMBOLDT, Saskatchewan; Writing by Denny Thomas; Editing by James Dalgleish and Rosalba O'Brien)