3,000 mourn­ers at­tend me­mo­rial for bus crash vic­tim Evan Thomas

The Daily Courier - - CANADA - By RYAN MCKENNA

SASKATOON —Evan Thomas ate Fruit Loops for break­fast, went to the rink for a skate, then had a nap be­fore board­ing the Hum­boldt Bron­cos bus for a play­off game.

Dur­ing the April 6 high­way drive to Ni­pawin, Sask., the 18year-old ex­changed mes­sages on Snapchat with friends.

The mes­sages stopped about 5 p.m.

Scott Thomas re­counted his son's last mo­ments at a me­mo­rial ser­vice Mon­day in the fam­ily’s home­town of Saskatoon.

“His friend and team­mate Bray­den Cam­rud has told us one of the last things he re­mem­bers is look­ing at the front of the bus, see­ing Evan pull his dress shirt on, tie on, flip his fin­gers through his hair and the lights went out,” said Thomas.

He told the crowd that his son died of mul­ti­ple skull frac­tures.

“We’ve been told that he died in­stantly. He did not suf­fer. There is some peace in that.”

Evan Thomas was one of 16 killed when the bus and a semi truck haul­ing peat moss col­lided at a ru­ral in­ter­sec­tion north of Tis­dale. Thir­teen oth­ers were in­jured, in­clud­ing Cam­rud, and sev­eral re­main in hospi­tal.

Scott Thomas said that his son’s cell­phone was re­cov­ered after the crash and there wasn’t a scratch on it. And his body, ex­cept for his head, was in near per­fect con­di­tion.

“My opin­ion is it was be­cause Evan was stand­ing —sim­ply stand­ing, putting his suit on. He was struck by the up­per cab­i­nets of the bus and killed in­stantly,” he said.

“That’s how ran­dom this was. Sit­ting, stand­ing, front, back. Com­pletely ran­dom. And vi­cious.” Thomas said he has given up ask­ing him­self why the ac­ci­dent hap­pened.

An out­pour­ing of grief and sup­port from peo­ple around the world has helped ease some of the pain, he said.

“It could have hap­pened on any bus on any stretch on any road in any part of Canada to any hockey team,” he said. “I think that is why it has ripped through ev­ery­body so hard.”

About 3,000 peo­ple at­tended the ser­vice at SaskTel Cen­tre, where friends and for­mer team­mates donned jer­seys with the name Thomas on the back and raised hockey sticks over the heads of his fam­ily mem­bers as they walked by.

Dozens of au­dio and video trib­utes de­scribed a hum­ble and re­spect­ful young man who wanted a ca­reer in medicine be­cause he wanted to help oth­ers. He could pull 95 per cent in al­most any sub­ject, with lit­tle ef­fort. And he won a top sci­ence award in Grade 11.

Some said Thomas, also known as E.T., had a wicked sense of hu­mour. He per­fected mak­ing Kraft Din­ner, which he usu­ally ate out of a pot. And he was ad­dicted to Tim Hortons iced cap­puc­ci­nos.

He loved hockey but also played base­ball and, no mat­ter the sport, was a ded­i­cated team­mate.

“My grand­son was one of a kind,” said Marg El­lard.

Thomas lived with El­lard for two sea­sons when he played hockey in Moose Jaw. He snuck his girl­friend in through a base­ment win­dow, un­plugged the home’s se­cu­rity cam­era and hosted par­ties, she said.

He also passed his driver’s li­cence on his first try, she added. And she would give any­thing to have him back again.

Cam­rud, 19, re­ceived mi­nor in­juries in the crash and has at­tended the fu­ner­als of his team­mates in be­tween vis­it­ing those still in hospi­tal.

He plans to play hockey again once he’s fully healed.

“I’m sure that’s what they would want,” Cam­rud said after the me­mo­rial.

“I’m go­ing to play for them and I’m go­ing to think about each and ev­ery one of them when I step out onto the ice.”

Scott Thomas also played ju­nior hockey and has ties to Kelowna and the Hamil­ton fam­ily that owns the Rock­ets, hav­ing been the first cap­tain in fran­chise his­tory dur­ing the in­au­gu­ral sea­son as the Ta­coma, Wash., Rock­ets in 1991-92 be­fore the team re­lo­cated to the Okana­gan in 1995.

Evan Thomas

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