The tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash that killed 16 people last April captured the hearts of Canada.
Support, both emotional and financial, has poured in to the small Saskatchewan town ever since. And though the Broncos are back playing this season, Humboldt still has a lot of healing left to do.
That’s why families of the victims are furious over a new book that has been written about the team – done so against their wishes.
Humble Beginnings of the Humboldt Broncos and the 2017-2018 Team is the name of a book written by Barry Heath, recently made available for purchase. Parents of the players on that team are working to ensure that nobody buys it.
Heath does not have the support of the victims’ families, who have spoken out against the author.
“A man by the name Barry Heath has written a book about the tragedy and nightmare we have all been living,” said Christina Haugan, widow of the Broncos’ head coach Darcy Haugan, in a statement shared on Facebook. “He has done this without the support and endorsement of any family involved in this. In fact, he was specifically asked not to do this at this time as none of us felt ready for something like that.”
Michelle Straschnitzki, whose son Ryan survived but was left paralyzed from the waist down, took to Twitter to voice her anger.
“Do not buy the book. It was in no way supported or endorsed by the 29 families! It is NOT Dr. Heath’s story to tell,” she said.
“PLEASE DO NOT PURCHASE this book,” added Toby Boulet, whose son Logan died in the crash, in a statement posted on Facebook. “Dr. Heath asked families for input and not one family agreed to provide input. He was told that the families were not ready to tell the collective story about the tragic day in April.”
The Broncos have been relatively open to media attention, but did so on their terms. The first game back in Humboldt was broadcasted nationally on TSN – but was done so without commercials.
“Dr. Heath DID NOT listen and he could not wait as he wanted to be the first one to write the story. Dr. Heath then went about and wrote the book anyway,” Boulet added.
“The story of our family members is ours to tell either individually or collectively as WE CHOOSE.
“At the present time the 29 Families have chosen to tell their stories individually as no story is yet finished. The 13 survivors continually add chapters to their lives which the 16 families that have passed fully support, share and love to hear.
“Dr. Heath continues to use celebrities as a form of endorsement, when the endorsement SHOULD come from the 29 families and without such endorsement this book is nothing but a grab at the headline by a person that is not connected at all to the tragedy other than he inserted himself into the tragedy.”
Heath has responded, saying that he did not need permission to tell this story.
“Without knowing what is in the book — a tribute to the Broncos of last year, the response, the worldwide attention and giving, and the team history from its inception — I am the current focus of blame and anger,” said Heath.