Family members of players involved in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash are harshly criticizing a new book about the hockey team and are urging people not to buy it.
“The story of our family members is ours to tell, either individually or collectively, as we choose,” read a post on Toby Boulet’s Facebook account on Monday. Boulet’s son, Logan, was one of the players killed in the crash involving the Broncos’ team bus and a semi-truck.
The crash on April 6 claimed 16 lives and injured over a dozen others.
On Sept. 5, Barry Heath, a former Saskatchewan coroner and veterinarian, published his book titled Humble Beginnings of the Humboldt Broncos and the 2017-2018 Team.
It is listed on the Indigo-Chapters website and is shown to be available at multiple locations in Saskatoon.
“Please do not purchase this book,” Boulet wrote. “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.”
WATCH: A Saskatchewan author says he had good intentions when he wrote a book about the Humboldt Broncos and the team’s deadly bus crash. Blake Lough reports.
The mother of Ryan Straschnitzki, one of the Broncos who survived the crash but was left paralyzed from the chest down, tweeted her displeasure with the author on Monday as well.
“Do not buy the book,” she tweeted. “It was in no way supported or endorsed by the 29 families! It is not Dr. Heath’s story to tell.”
“A man by the name Barry Heath has written a book about the tragedy and nightmare we have all been living,” Christina George-Haugan, the widow of former Broncos coach Darcy Haugan who was killed in the April crash, posted on Facebook on Monday. “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.
“Would you please do me a favour and not purchase this book and support him and share this so others don’t as well? I would appreciate that!”
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According to Boulet, Heath first sent letters to family members four to five weeks after the crash to pitch the book.
In a Facebook post that has since been deleted, Heath said he “followed the proper channels” by also contacting former Broncos president Kevin Garinger and sending him chapters of the book before publishing. He admitted that Garinger did not provide feedback.
Because the families did not agree to participate in the writing of the book, Heath relied on details and interviews already published in various media outlets. Before the post was deleted and his account made private, many commenters criticized him for trying to profit off the tragedy.
“Some may think I wrote the book for profit,” Heath wrote. “All the proceeds of the book go to the Humboldt Broncos Alumni Association, which was accepted by the Broncos as an umbrella group under them. One of the activities of the HBAA is to support hockey players by using funds for bursaries for young players. This is what I have agreed to do. $10 of each $20 book is going to the HBAA.”
“Ask yourselves – have the newspapers and TV and radio stations given support to the families from the profits of the additional papers or advertising they sold? Or did they just keep hounding them for more interviews?” Heath wrote.
According to the author, the book also focuses on the early history of the team, but the table of contents shows at least 16 of the 28 chapters are dedicated to the bus crash and its aftermath.
Heath said the book took approximately 500 hours to complete and is his tribute to the team – adding that he believes he has “done justice to the emergency responders and the memories the families of those lost and injured.”
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