‘Erase that year:’ Family of injured Broncos player looks to better times ahead

Ryan Straschnitzki, 19, was one of 13 survivors in the crash between the Broncos team bus and a semi-trailer

Ryan Straschnitzki smiles as he speaks to reporters at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Thursday May 31, 2018 in Philadelphia. The father of a young hockey player who was paralyzed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says his son is making good progress in his specialized spinal treatment in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jacqueline Larma

Ryan Straschnitzki smiles as he speaks to reporters at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Thursday May 31, 2018 in Philadelphia. The father of a young hockey player who was paralyzed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says his son is making good progress in his specialized spinal treatment in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jacqueline Larma

Injured Humboldt Broncos hockey player Ryan Straschnitzki is keeping his dark side in check as he and his family celebrate their first Christmas since a bus crash last spring that left him partially paralyzed.

It will also be their first away from their home in Airdrie, Alta.

Straschnitzki, 19, was one of 13 survivors in the crash between the Broncos team bus and a semi-trailer in rural Saskatchewan. Sixteen people were killed.

The family will be having Christmas at their home away from home — a hotel they’ve been living in for the last six months while their house is renovated to accommodate Straschnitzki’s wheelchair.

“Should be a nice time,” he said after a recent physio session in Calgary. “Just hanging around the hotel with the family. Have a nice dinner. Open some gifts.”

But Straschnitzki admits to having dark days as well.

“It definitely comes out in times of frustration, but for the most part I like to keep it in me and just be that happy guy that everyone looks up to.”

The positive veneer cracked recently when a van he was riding in was rear-ended by a truck and Straschnitzki was flung to the floor. It brought back traumatic memories.

“It just happened out of nowhere like back in April,” he said. “I’m healthy now and nothing was badly damaged, so I’m just moving forward and keeping that positive attitude.”

READ MORE: ‘I’m pretty pumped:’ On-ice reunion for injured Humboldt Broncos

His parents recall receiving a frantic call from their son after the accident.

“I think it was harder on us that night because he brought us right into that moment. He drew us in and we relived the way he lived it,” said his mother Michelle Straschnitzki.

“It threw us for a loop, but he’s still being resilient. I know he’s sort of a hero to a lot of people and he’s definitely showed himself to have true grit.”

She said it was a shock because her son had remained stoic since his accident.

“I think he does that for us … He doesn’t talk to us too much about it, but I know he lives in his own head quite a bit.”

For his father, Tom Straschnitzki, 2018 can’t end soon enough.

“We can erase that year from most of our minds and then move forward to 2019 and 2020 and go from there.”

Ryan Straschnitzki said he won’t be holding on to many memories of a tough year.

“I’ll just focus on just the memories of the boys, and all the hockey memories I had growing up, and seeing the guys after the accident which was nice. Basically those are the only good memories.”

He intends to continue his rehab in the coming year and pursue his dream to eventually play sledge hockey at the national level.

“Growing up with hockey I wasn’t the most skilled out there. I wasn’t always the go-to guy, but I made sure I was one of the hardest working on and off the ice.”

Christmas dinner is being provided by a local butcher and family members will be gathering at the hotel to help celebrate.

“It’ll be a very odd Christmas. We’re trying to figure out how to make it as normal as possible but we’re all still pretty scattered,” said Michelle Straschnitzki.

“It still doesn’t feel like Christmas and we’re trying to get into the spirit of things. We’re still not sure how we’re going to do Christmas morning, but we’ll figure it out.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor Ryan Straschnitzki, left, is interviewed with his girlfriend Erika Burns in Airdrie, Alta., Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor Ryan Straschnitzki, left, is interviewed with his girlfriend Erika Burns in Airdrie, Alta., Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor Ryan Straschnitzki attends a physiotherapy session with kinesiologist Kirill Dubrovskiy, left, and physiotherapist Nelson Morela, centre, in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Aug. 20, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor Ryan Straschnitzki attends a physiotherapy session with kinesiologist Kirill Dubrovskiy, left, and physiotherapist Nelson Morela, centre, in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Aug. 20, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki does muscles strengthening exercises during a physiotherapy session at the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia on Monday, June 25, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki does muscles strengthening exercises during a physiotherapy session at the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia on Monday, June 25, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Paralyzed Humboldt Broncos hockey player Ryan Straschnitzki is working on his rehab in Philadelphia’s Shriners hospital. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Paralyzed Humboldt Broncos hockey player Ryan Straschnitzki is working on his rehab in Philadelphia’s Shriners hospital. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Just Posted

Ashcroft hospital emergency closed sign, 2016. Photo credit: Barbara Roden
Ashcroft Hospital emergency department closed this weekend

Closure due to unexpected limited physician availabiliy, says Interior Health

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Heidi Roy of the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek with the 3,000 jade boulder, which is now on secure display inside the shop. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Massive jade boulder returns to Cache Creek store six months after daring heist

The 3,000-pound boulder was stolen on Dec. 19, 2020 and found abandoned in the bush a week later

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Child sex crimes charges against Interior’s top doc won’t impact pandemic response: Dix

Dr. Albert de Villiers is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

Most Read