Home / Hockey / Hope in Humboldt: Parents of Jacob Leicht find purpose in the face of tragedy

Hope in Humboldt: Parents of Jacob Leicht find purpose in the face of tragedy


If you prefer to a small glimpse of precisely what ‘Humboldt Strong’ actually means, look no additional Kurt Leicht and his spouse, Celeste Leray-Leicht.

HUMBOLDT, SK – You come right into a state of affairs like this as an outsider and also you develop a preconceived notion that issues like the bus accident that killed 16 folks final Friday would cripple a bit city like Humboldt. You come to see that nearly everybody who lives right here is linked with the tragedy in a technique or one other. You see the ache in their faces and their phrases and their tears. And you marvel how they’ll even operate in the face of such devastating tragedy.

But they do. After closing the faculties for in the future, native officers  – the president of the Humboldt Broncos is the director of training right here and the group’s vice-president is the deputy director – determined to open the faculties Tuesday morning. Businesses are working, with folks clad in inexperienced and gold are serving to wherever they’ll. People are going about their lives as they put together to bury their lifeless, together with the group’s coach, Dayna Brons, who grew to become the newest sufferer after dying from her accidents on Wednesday. Because apparently that’s how they do issues round right here.

If you prefer to a small glimpse of precisely what ‘Humboldt Strong’ actually means, you want to hear about Kurt Leicht and his spouse, Celeste Leray-Leicht. They misplaced their oldest son, 19-year-old Jacob, in the bus crash final Friday evening. And whereas they put together for his funeral on Friday at the Elgar Petersen Arena on Friday, they’ve been at house, holding their three different kids tightly whereas making an attempt to heal. But they’re sturdy, as sturdy as any two folks I’ve ever met. They’ve been counting on their religion and already speaking about how this tragedy will direct them to a better purpose.

For Celeste, that pivotal second got here Sunday morning, lower than two days after the crash. She and her husband have been making ready to go to Saskatoon to view Jacob’s physique and go to the gamers who have been in the hospital. Imagine that. Celeste was crying at her kitchen desk. “I just said, ‘God, you’d better give me a purpose here because I fear the dark moments that lie ahead,’ ” Celeste mentioned. “I mentioned, ‘Jacob, help me out.’ And at that moment I just felt him and I knew.” And that’s what prompted her to attempt to make one thing of this tragedy, to attempt to use it to assist others.

“I want to be part of something bigger,” Celeste mentioned. “There is so much hurt in this province in so many ways, particularly with the First Nations community. There is so much tragedy and affliction in this world and they don’t get the attention they deserve sometimes. I have no idea what this is going to look like, but I want to start a movement of some sort. People are hurting in this province with the whole Colten Boushie trial and it’s time that people reach out. From hurt can come good.”

Many are hurting in Saskatchewan proper now, together with the Leichts and the different households which have been affected. The outpouring of help, each from Saskatchewan and round the world, has been overwhelming. Just Wednesday morning, the Leichts have been approached by nation music stars Paul Brandt, who wrote Small Towns and Big Dreams devoted to Humboldt, and the Hunter Brothers, who each requested if they may carry out at Jacobs’ funeral.

But the harm is there and it is extremely actual and in some ways, it’s simply starting to sink in. In so some ways, issues modified in unalterable methods the evening of April 6, 2018, when the Humboldt Broncos headed to close by Nipawin on the heels of a triple-overtime loss in Game 5 of their playoff sequence, making an attempt to stave off elimination and keep in the sequence, with their followers not far behind them. Kurt and Celeste determined to drive themselves to the sport as a substitute of taking the fan bus and, in truth, handed the accident with out even realizing their son’s group bus was concerned. Emergency personnel have been already on the scene. “We just thought it was a semi,” Kurt mentioned. “We didn’t notice the bus in behind the semi. So we just kind of thought, ‘Let’s keep going, get our tickets, get a bite to eat.’ ”

As they made their technique to the sport, they obtained a cellphone name telling them the Broncos bus had been concerned and have been instructed to go to Nipawin. Kurt determined to return to the accident scene. He noticed the situation of the bus and was grateful there have been any survivors. But as time went on and he didn’t hear about the situation of his son, the grim actuality started to sink in.

“We were getting some word about which kids were going where, but Jacob’s name wasn’t coming up,” Kurt mentioned. “By the time we left the site, I knew. I knew already. I just knew.” The very first thing Kurt did was name the father of coach Darcy Haugen, whose mother and father moved to Humboldt from Alberta to be nearer to their son and grandchildren after Darcy acquired the Broncos job. “I told him, ‘It doesn’t look good,’ ” Kurt mentioned. “I told him, ‘I think we both lost our sons tonight.’ ”

Kurt and Celeste went on to Nipawin to get extra details about their son and his teammates and that’s when it grew to become official. “We’re getting news out of the hospital, you know, who’s where, what’s going on, and your son’s name is not coming up,” Kurt mentioned. “I got to give the Dahlgens good news, which was positive. I walked over to Mark (Dahlgren, father of Bronco player Kaleb) and said, ‘Your son is in the hospital.’ But the rest of us sat there and waited for the RCMP. We kind of just said, ‘Give us some news so we can get home to our families.’ And the RCMP came and took us all aside and basically they had a list and said, ‘If your son’s not marked in a hospital here, I’m sorry. There are fatalities.’ ”

There have been indicators already which have satisfied each Kurt and Celeste that their son is in a greater place. The first got here when an previous good friend of Kurt’s dropped by to supply his condolences. Kurt grew up in a small city known as Naicam, which is about 45 miles northeast of Humboldt, together with Scott Thomas, whose son Evan additionally died in the crash. This good friend of Kurt Leicht and Scott Thomas was on his technique to Naicam after the crash and seen two bald eagles. “And he said, ‘That’s Evan and Jacob,’ ” Kurt mentioned. “ ‘They’re just soaring.’ ”

Another got here when Jacob’s girlfriend, who was travelling in Thailand, realized of the accident and was known as house. Her father picked her up at the airport in Saskatoon and was driving from the airport to Humboldt. Jacob wore No. 11 with the Broncos. About midway from Saskatoon to Humboldt, it was precisely 12:11 and the temperature gauge mentioned minus-11. At that second, they noticed the most vibrant Northern Lights they’d ever seen. It was stable inexperienced and seemed like a bridge connecting Saskatoon to Humboldt. “He said that Jacob was carrying them to Humboldt,” Celeste mentioned. “The First Nations are tied to the Northern Lights and I thought, ‘It could be something like the Northern Lights Movement for Kids.’ It’s not going to be about Jacob, but Jacob is going to be instrumental in it. He might be my guide. I have to shelve that for a little while, but I’m going to get going on that at some point.”

In the meantime, Kurt and Celeste Leicht have been spending a lot of their time taking Jacob’s associates and teammates for personal viewings earlier than the funeral, even taking the devoted household canine Sadie alongside to say goodbye. And that is how sturdy they’re. They wished their son’s surviving teammates to have license to maneuver on.

“We went around and tried to see all of them at the hospital,” Kurt mentioned. “And we just told them, ‘Be thankful. No regrets. Don’t be mad because somebody else passed away.’ We wanted to show our support. A hug back and forth goes a long way. I told them, his friends and the boys in the hospital, ‘Jacob just would have got out there and tried harder and worked harder.’ ”

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