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

‘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

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.

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

 

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 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)

Just Posted

VIDEO: Langford man battling cancer honored with hot rod, motorcycle procession

Friends and family support Patrick O’Hara on his 73rd birthday

‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

Victoria passes motion to allow camping 24-7 in parks until June 25

Langford Fire calm mother and daughter after being trapped in elevator

Three-year-old girl given stuffed animal to calm nerves

Capital Regional District prepares to reopen regional campgrounds

Camping will look different at Island View, Sooke Potholes, Jordan River sites

Langford businesses can expand onto sidewalks, public spaces

Council passes new bylaw supporting business expansion

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read