Winnipeg Jets Memorial Site

The “Double Ditch” Incident

The hockey world has not been immune to tragedy.

Four members of the Swift Current Broncos were killed in a bus accident in December 1986, and, more recently, in September 2011, the plane carrying the Russian team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl went down, killing all aboard.

Winnipeg Jets fans may be unaware that their own team nearly became the victim of a similar tragedy in November 1980.

Heading east from Montreal, their bus crossed a bridge approximately 35 miles of Quebec City. They were unaware that, on the other side, there were four vehicles in the middle of road. Unable to stop in time to avoid a crash, the driver applied the brakes, swerved into the snow-covered ditch in the middle of the highway, and climbed up the other side.

Their troubles were far from over.

They suddenly found themselves facing oncoming westbound traffic and with a semi-trailer heading right for them, the driver swerved back into the ditch got back up onto the other side.

Miraculously, the Jets were able to continue their journey without missing a beat. A combination of the driver's skill and some incredibly good fortune prevented what could have been a horrible tragedy.

The Jets went on to drop a 5-1 decision to the Nordiques at Le Colisee the next night, extending a winless streak that would reach a league-record 30 games and cost coach Tom McVie his job.

The big story, however, was the fact that all the Jets were at the game, safe and sound.