GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – The case of a man charged in a crash that killed four high school football players from northern Alberta is scheduled to be in court today in Grande Prairie.
The Crown has said Brenden Holubowich is expected to enter a plea and then the case is to proceed to sentencing.
The 23-year-old faces 16 charges including impaired driving causing the death and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
In October 2011, his pick-up truck collided with a car carrying five members of the Warriors football team from Grande Prairie Composite High School.
Walter Borden-Wilkins and Tanner Hildebrand, both 15, and Matthew Deller and Vince Stover, both 16, were killed.
Zach Judd spent several weeks in a coma suffering from brain injuries but made a recovery.
Walter’s mother, Holly Borden, says she will be in the courtroom to give a victim impact statement.
Borden said she wants to stand up and tell Holubowich and the judge how much her family’s life has changed.
She would like Holubowich to go to prison for a long time but, in the end, she said it really doesn’t matter.
Her boy with the bright smile, who dreamed of playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League, is never coming home.
“No amount of time to me is going to make any difference really because Walter’s gone,” she said. “It’s never going to bring him back.”
The initial shock of the crash turned the entire community upside down and had football players across the country mourning four boys they never knew.
People packed an arena for a memorial service honouring the boys. Zach spent several weeks in a coma with brain injuries, a fractured skull and punctured lung.
Many high school teams across Canada honoured the players with moments of silence at their games. Even the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders of the CFL put the Warriors logo on their helmets for the last couple of games of the regular season.
The Warriors toughed it out and finished their season. They went on to win their league championship before losing in the quarter-finals at provincials. Their final run made national sports headlines.
Coach Rick Gilson, the same man who helped RCMP deliver news of the crash to the boys’ families, was later named NFL Canada’s youth coach of the year for being a rock and role mode after the crash.
Carol Ann MacDonald, superintendent of the Grande Prairie Public School District, said the school has learned how to better cope with grief since the crash.
A new wing, called a health and wellness centre, opened at the school in January. The $600,000 addition houses a full-time social worker, three guidance counsellors, career counsellors, RCMP liaison officers and a health nurse.
She said there are no memorials or tributes dedicated to the dead boys. Grief experts told school officials it was best for students not to be reminded of the deaths and to try to move on.
“We will never forget the boys. The boys certainly have a place and will always have a place in our hearts,” MacDonald said.
“But we don’t want to dwell back. We always want our kids to move forward and that’s why we provide what we do by talking about it. It has made a difference.”