Family Mistakenly Believed Son Had Survived Canadian Bus Crash After 'Identification Error'

Playing Canada Hockey Team Victims Misidentified: 'A Lot of These Boys Looked Alike'

Following an identification error, a Canadian family was led to believe their son had been killed in a deadly bus crash, while another family mistakenly thought their son was alive.

Saskatchewan's ministry of justice said the body of 18-year-old Parker Tobin was initially mistaken for that of Xavier Labelle, partly because many of the hockey players aboard the bus had blond-dyed hair and similar, athletic builds.

But Labelle is alive, and Tobin is actually among the dead.

The error was not discovered until Sunday, two days after 15 people were killed while on their way to a hockey playoff game in western Canada.

"Late last night, we were made aware of an error that had occurred in the identification of two of the individuals," Drew Wilby, spokesman for the ministry, said at a press conference Monday. "Xavier Labelle, who had been previously confirmed as deceased is not deceased. He is alive. And unfortunately that means that Parker Tobin has been confirmed to be deceased."

Many of the boys on the bus looked alike, Wilby explained.

"They had the blond hair that was supportive of their team for their playoff run," he said. "They had very similar builds and all very similar ages and they're all very athletic, of course, as they are Junior 'A' Hockey players."

The government of Saskatchewan apologized to the boys' families for the error.

"We've been in touch with the families," Wilby said. "They're fully aware and I want to thank them for their professionalism."

"I can't even imagine putting myself in those families' shoes to first get the notice that their loved ones have been in a collision of this nature and then to find out that who they had thought was their loved one, wasn't potentially actually their loved one," he said. "I can't even fathom and I don't think enough could ever be said. All I can do is offer our sincerest apologies."

Xavier Labelle's brother, Isaac, wrote on Facebook Monday, "All I can say is miracles do exist. My deepest condolences to the Tobin family."

Officials identified the 10 Humboldt Broncos players who were killed in the crash, as well as the five team personnel members: 

Adam Herold, 16, of Montmartre, Saskatchewan

Connor Lukan, 21, of Slave Lake, Alberta

Evan Thomas, 18, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Jacob Leicht, 19, of Humboldt, Saskatchewan

Jaxon Joseph, 20, of Edmonton, Alberta

Logan Boulet, 21, of Lethbridge, Alberta

Logan Hunter, 18, of St. Albert, Alberta

Logan Schatz, 20, of Allan, Saskatchewan

Stephen Wack, 21, of St. Albert, Alberta

Parker Tobin, 18, of Stony Plain, Alberta

Brody Hinz, 18, of Humboldt, Saskatchewan

Darcy Haugan, 42, of Humboldt, Saskatchewan

Glen Doerksen, 59, of Carrot River, Saskatchewan

Mark Cross, 27, of Strasbourg, Saskatchewan

Tyler Bieber, 29, of Humboldt, Saskatchewan

On Sunday, a memorial service was held in the town of Humboldt to remember those who died in the crash, and to help the community heal.

GoFundMe campaign has been started to raise money for the victims. By Monday, the campaign had raised more than $5 million.

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