‘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)

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

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

Intricate cloth masks with Indigenous design made by Teresa Snow. Facebook/ Masks4Maskwacis
‘Masks 4 Maskwacis’ wins Northern Lights Volunteer Award

The group received recognition for their efforts to support their community during COVID-19.

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Most Read