‘It’s time:’ Paralyzed Bronco returning to Humboldt for first time since crash

Former Broncos hockey player Ryan Straschnitzki returning home after 526 days

After more than a year since Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki was injured he is finally retuning home to Airdrie, Alta., on April 27, 2019. (Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

For the first time in 526 days, former Broncos hockey player Ryan Straschnitzki will be back in Humboldt, Sask.

The 20-year-old from Airdrie, Alta., was paralyzed from the chest down when a bus carrying Humboldt’s junior hockey team collided with a semi truck on the way to a playoff game on April 6, 2018.

Sixteen people died and 13 others, including Straschnitzki, were injured.

“I wanted to give myself the right amount of time before returning,” Straschnitzki told The Canadian Press.

“It’s time.”

His visit coincides with the Broncos hosting the Notre Dame Hounds in their season opener Saturday night. The Humboldt team is also celebrating its 50th anniversary and plans to welcome various alumni.

Straschnitzki says returning this weekend seemed like the right opportunity.

“I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about going back. It seems like a long time ago now.”

READ MORE: Two killed after bus crashes taking university students to Bamfield

The driver of the semi, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu of Calgary, pleaded guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving for causing the crash. He was sentenced earlier this year to eight years in prison.

Court heard that the rookie driver was distracted by a flapping tarp on the back of his load when he barrelled through a rural stop sign and into the path of the hockey team’s bus.

Graysen Cameron of Olds, Alta., fractured a vertebrae in the crash.

He took an assistant coaching role last year with the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs, his former team in the Alberta Midget Hockey League before he joined the Broncos. He then had surgery to remove metal rods and screws in his back in an attempt to improve his mobility.

The 20-year-old is back playing for the Broncos this season.

“I think it’s great that Graysen is back with the Broncos — and he’s been named the captain,” Straschnitzki says.

“I spent some time with Graysen in Kelowna over the summer and that’s when I decided to go. I want to be there for him and it will be great to see some of the guys.”

READ MORE: Humboldt seeks new image to help city move on from bus crash tragedy

Straschnitzki says he also hopes to see fans and meet with billet families.

A decision on whether he’ll visit the site of the bus crash near Nipawin, Sask., is still up in the air.

“Going to Humboldt is one thing. But whether I will be able to go to the site — might be too difficult,” he says.

“Maybe if I were to go with some of the other guys.”

While still in hospital after the collision, Straschnitzki decided to take up sledge hockey and has kept himself busy pursuing a spot on Canada’s national sledge hockey team.

Earlier this year, he signed a deal with Adidas to participate in its hockey and training campaigns.

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Humboldt survivors featured in documentary want to make their ‘angels’ proud

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Discussion on importance of Orange Shirt Day set for Parksville Museum

Annishnawbeg Nation elder Samuel Stevens to lead talks

Parksville pedestrian airlifted to hospital in Vancouver after nighttime collision

Police report man’s injuries were ‘significant’ but not life-threatening

Parksville Generals face Nanaimo Buccaneers to open VIJHL season

Fans not permitted inside arenas due to COVID-19 restrictions

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

Metis pilot Teara Fraser profiled in new DC Comics graphic novel of women heroes

The Canadian pilot’s entry is titled: ‘Teara Fraser: Helping Others Soar’

Horgan vows to replace B.C.’s shared senior care rooms in 10 years

$1.4 billion construction on top of staff raises, single-site work

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

Wildfire smoke expected to blanket to Vancouver Island again

Conditions expected to worsen Wednesday afternoon

Most Read