For the first time since a bus crash killed 16 of his teammates and injured 13 more, Humboldt Broncos hockey player Layne Matechuk is back on the ice.
“It was incredible, it was heartwarming just to see his pure determination,” his dad, Kevin Matechuk, told InsideEdition.com. “We’re going to keep working on it, every week, we’re going to keep him on ice again.”
Eighteen-year-old Layne hasn’t skated in nine months, and Kevin explained that their initial concern was whether his muscle memory would kick in once his skates hit the ice.
“But he did fine,” Kevin said. “He’s got a long ways to go but his determination showed that he’ll be just fine.”
Layne is recovering from a brain injury sustained in the crash in rural Saskatchewan, Canada last April. The bus, filled with 29 teens and coaches from a town of less than 6,000, were on their way to a hockey playoff game in April 2018 when a truck driver failed to stop at a red light and collided with the bus.
“It was the worst day of our life,” Kevin recalled. “When we heard about the accident about 20 minutes after 5 in the evening, and we finally found out that our Layne was alive and at the hospital about 8:30 at night. It was a long, horrible, horrible time for us.”
Layne remained in a coma for one month after the accident.
“They called it a floating face, so he has 11 plates and 80 screws in his face to put it back together. He had broken ribs, internal bruising but mainly the head injury,” his dad said. “We were by his side the whole time, every day, day after day.”
Layne was discharged from the hospital six months later, and is still in physical therapy.
In addition to starting college classes and learning to drive again, his biggest goal now is to “skate properly.”
Meanwhile, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver of the truck that collided with the bus, pleaded guilty Tuesday to 29 counts of dangerous driving causing death or bodily harm.
"Mr. Sidhu advised me: 'I don't want to make things any worse. I can't make things any better, but I certainly don't want to make them worse by having a trial,'" his attorney Mark Brayford said, according to The Canadian Press.
Sidhu also told his lawyer that he didn’t want a lengthy trial or a plea bargain, just to plead guilty.
Many of the families who have lost loved ones said they were thankful for his remorse.
“When he said, ‘Guilty,’ to me, I have my closure,” dad Scott Thomas said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “If he spends a day, if he spends 10 years, time is irrelevant. He was guilty. He acknowledged that. That’s all I needed to hear."
Thomas lost his 18-year-old son, Evan, in the crash.
A sentencing hearing is set to begin later this month.