Grief and sadness an obstacle for many after Broncos crash

Some of the surviving players say they have developed their own support system

Kevin Matechuk of Colonsay, Sask., wasn’t prepared for the emotions that hit him when he visited the site of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

His son, Layne, who is 19 now, had been in a coma and was learning to talk and walk again due to a severe brain injury. Matechuk’s wife, Shelley, was too afraid to travel.

While in the area for his job as a manager at an agricultural company, he stopped at the site north of Tisdale, Sask., with another Broncos parent.

“The emotion, it put me down on my knees and I couldn’t even go back to work. I just had to go home to hug Layne. I had to hold him after. It was very, very emotional.”

Saturday marks the first anniversary of the April 6 crash that killed 16 people and injured 13 on the junior hockey team’s bus. The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game when the bus hit a semi-truck after its driver blew a stop sign at a rural intersection.

Dr. Kristi Wright, president of the Psychology Association of Saskatchewan, said she wouldn’t be surprised if many of the people affected by the crash — family members, friends and first responders — are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.

WATCH: Families honour those who died in Broncos bus crash

“Death in itself is an awful event,” she said in an interview. ”For people who have struggled with mental health, this can make it worse.”

Joanne Ginter, a senior psychologist with Sundancer Psychological Services in Calgary, said the anniversary is significant for people.

“It marks (that) you’ve gone through the first of everything — the first holidays, the first birthday,” she said. “It’s a time that people come together and kind of start marking off moving forward.”

The attention the crash received around the world, along with overwhelming public support, is likely to have been positive for the victims’ families, she said.

“The amount of outpouring of love that came for that whole tragedy — it’s my guess that allowed those people to heal.”

Some of the surviving players say they have developed their own support system.

“I text my buddies. We just keep in touch and we’re there for each other,” said Ryan Straschnitzki, 19, who was paralyzed from the waist down.

Straschnitzki, who is from of Airdrie, Alta., keeps himself busy with therapy and has a goal of playing in the Olympics on Canada’s sledge hockey team.

But he has his bad days too.

“It definitely comes out in times of frustration, but for the most part I like to keep it in me,” he said.

Tyler Smith of Leduc, Alta., recovered from his injuries enough to be able to return to the Broncos last fall.

After a month back on the ice, Smith decided to go home. The 20-year-old said his brief comeback was a good thing.

“I think, in the grand scheme of things, it’ll give me the closure that I need. I proved to myself I can play again.

“And then it’s just the fact I can say that I tried. And I think that’ll help me in the long run.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Memorial remembers Vernon’s most marginalized

Prayers and flowers for those who have died on the streets

One year later: Vernon pot stores look back at legalization

Edibles made legal on first anniversary of recreational cannabis

Vernon RCMP seek assistance in locating vehicle involved in hit and run

Vernon RCMP are searching for a grey sedan that struck a motorcycle on Oct. 8 at 48 Ave. and 24 St.

Great Vernon Pumpkin Race to star in South Korean documentary

Pumpkin Classic event to kick off this weekend with gourd weigh-ins

Okanagan College nursing students to make history in Thailand

Students to take on Vernon-born practicum overseas

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Letter: Small actions of North Okanagan-Shuswap candidates speak volumes

Writer commends Salmon Arm high school students for helping at all-candidates meeting

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Okanagan candidates’ signs headed to dump

Dozens of signs were picked up for not complying with bylaws, according to the city

Salmon Arm arena told to upgrade ice chilling system in 2020 or face closure

Fatal ammonia leak in Fernie prompts Technical Safety BC to order 20-year-old chillers replacement

Police search Kelowna home, arrest 6 and seize 2000 marijuana plants

Police seized $1400 in cash, 95 pounds of dried marijuana bud and nearly 2000 plants

Most Read