Authorities mixed up the identities of one of the deceased and one of the survivors in the Humboldt Broncos crash, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice said Monday.
The body of 18-year-old Parker Tobin, a goalie, was mistaken for that of Xavier Labelle — Labelle is injured but alive, and Tobin is among the 15 people who died when the bus carrying the junior hockey team collided with a semi truck in northeastern Saskatchewan on Friday, the ministry said.
LISTEN: The parents of Parker Tobin thought the badly injured person in the hospital was their son, when it fact it was not, it was Xavier Labelle. Ron MacLean of Hockey Night in Canada talks about being in the hospital room.
Fourteen people were injured in the crash.
“The Office of the Chief Coroner apologizes for the misidentification and any confusion created by it,” the ministry said in a statement. “Our condolences go out to the family of Parker Tobin.”
On Monday, Drew Wilby with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice spoke with the media about what he called an “unfortunate error.”
He said they became aware of the error late Sunday night.
“A lot of these boys looked alike. They had the blonde hair that was supportive of their team for their playoff run, they’re very similar builds, they’ve all very similar ages and they’re all athletic of course,” he explained.
Wilby said both families are fully aware of the error and he thanked them for their professionalism, support and understanding in the matter. He also extended his apology to both families on behalf of the Office of the Chief Coroner and the Government of Saskatchewan.
Over the weekend, Tobin’s family had tweeted that their son was alive.
“This is one of the hardest posts I have ever had to make. Parker is stable at the moment and being airlifted to Saskatoon hospital,” Rhonda Clarke Tobin wrote.
Meanwhile, Xavier Labelle’s family had confirmed his death over the weekend, with his brother writing in an Instagram post that he was heartbroken.
News of the mistake comes a day after a solemn vigil was held at the team’s home arena, where thousands gathered to remember the deceased.
Among those in attendance was Nick Shumlanski, the first of the Broncos to be released from hospital.
On Sunday night, he tweeted out a statement saying the support he’s received has been helpful.
“Although reality hasn’t really set in yet, it is truly devastating to have lost so many close friends, brothers and amazing coaches. Times are tough right now but the support you all have shown is so amazing,” he wrote.
He also said that he was lucky to be in the condition he was.
“The doctor told me it was truly a miracle that I was able to get up and walk away from the accident with very minor injuries and a couple of scars on my body,” he said.
The Humboldt Broncos were on their way to a playoff game Friday in Nipawin when the crash took place.