‘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

Just Posted

Nanaimo Fire Rescue reviewing potential sites for future fire stations

City’s growing population, infrastructure, taffic congestion prompting study

OPINION: The more walkable a city, the more liveable it is

New pedestrian advocacy group, Walk in Nanaimo, being formed

Homelessness Action Week a call for citizens to see the issue in a new light

Homelessness Action Week Oct. 13-19 includes coffee talk, facility tours, film screening

Nanaimo Clippers thankful after three straight wins on road trip

City’s junior A hockey club wins seventh in a row, trades alternate captain

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Empower court system, RCMP to curb crime

Justice system gives free rides to repeat offenders, says letter writer

VIDEO: Trudeau plays defence in Maritimes today while Scheer fights for seats in Quebec

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party has been on the rise in recent polls, is campaigning in Toronto

Court action in Trail acid spills may take years

B.C. court case involves a number of defendants and a number of plaintiffs

In the news: Sprinting to the election finish line and anger amid Manitoba storms

First Nations residents forced to evacuate their Manitoba homes after a recent snowstorm

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

Proposed 76-unit residential development would neighbour north Nanaimo mall

Council approves first and second reading of re-zoning application for 4961 Songbird Pl.

Map on Elections Canada site sends voters to Cedar landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

Nanaimo software designer creates hunting-themed card game

Duck Buck Moose involves skill, cunning and luck of the draw

Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates compare, contrast platforms on debate stage

Energy policy, veterans’ affairs and more debated Thursday at Beban Park

City council mulls emergency medical responder training for firefighters

Council directs staff to prepare report on firefighter medical training upgrades

Most Read