On December 30th, 1986 at roughly 3:45PM tragedy struck.
The Swift Current Broncos bus traveling to Regina for their evening matchup with the Pats crashed four kilometres outside of Swift Current. Many aboard were injured and the lives of four players, Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff were lost The news left thousands in shock and disbelief.
Following the accident, a community-wide memorial service, aptly named the “Solidarity of Sorrow” was held in the Centennial Civic Centre (now known as the Innovation Credit Union iPlex). The service saw approximately 4,000 individuals attend, including the entire Bronco organization, family, friends, the community of Swift Current plus players and coaching staff from teams across the Western Hockey League and beyond.
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.”
32 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 honouring the fallen players, 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. In 2016, after years of community fund raising spearheaded by local business man Bill Lee, a memorial was unveiled at the crash site. The memorial is visited by thousands every year, including most WHL teams when they pass through Swift Current.
Just over 2 years after the crash, many on board the bus on that fateful day captured the 1989 Memorial Cup. Canada’s national junior hockey championship.
The Swift Current Broncos organization sends their deepest thoughts and warmest regards to the families and friends of those involved. “What we keep in memory is ours, unchanged forever”.