“What we keep in memory is ours unchanged forever”
On December 30th, 1986 at roughly 3:45PM; time stood still.
The Bronco bus traveling to Regina for their evening matchup with the Pats crashed roughly four kilometres outside of Swift Current, injuring many and taking the lives of four beloved players: Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff. The news left thousands in shock and disbelief.
It is one of the darkest moments in Western Hockey League history to date and a moment that will be engrained into the memories of an entire hockey community forever.
Following the accident was a community-wide memorial service, aptly named the “Solidarity of Sorrow”. The service saw just under 4,000 individuals attend, including the entire Bronco organization, family, friends, the community of Swift Current and players and coaching staff from teams across the Western Hockey League and beyond. Everyone gathered to remember these young and inspirational individuals whose lives were taken far too early.
Former Mayor of Swift Current, Len Stein, said it well at the time of the crash. “A man really never dies while there are those on earth who loved him. A man on earth is never gone as there are those who remember him with fondness and as long as his memory evokes a wistful smile. All who have loved and who have been loved have earned a piece of immortality.”
27 years later, the Broncos are still remembering the fatal crash and how it has molded the team and community into what it is to this day. The Broncos wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys honoring the fallen players, a remembrance plaque hangs on the wall in the lobby and a banner above the ice at the Credit Union i-Plex and the Western Hockey League created the “Four Broncos Memorial Trophy” to honor the league’s player of the year.
The Swift Current Broncos organization sends their deepest thoughts and warmest regards to the families and friends of those involved. We will never forget.