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.

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

Just Posted

Curling Club comedy “Right on the button” for Vernon

Western Canada Theatre production throws humour into the mix of immigration

Missing Vernon man possibly sighted in Lower Mainland

Information leads family, friends to believe Jay Rosenberger near Lower Mainland Saturday

Museum digs up history for ’60s Vernon Winter Carnival

Get Groovin’ with the Grandkids or flashback to the ’60s with tunes, trivia and costumes

City of Enderby apologizes for cemetery damages

‘Very disrespectful’: Headstones at Enderby cemetery damaged by excavation crew

Two-month-old Kelowna boy diagnosed with rare heart disorder returns home from treatment

Arel spent two weeks at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver after suffering multiple cardiac arrests

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

House fire quickly knocked down in South Kelowna

According to Kelowna Fire Department, the house sustained interior damage during the blaze

Prolific South Okanagan criminal will be freed for time served

Afshin Ighani pleads guilty to assault charges but will be set free for time served

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

Shuswap man given six months jail time for possession of child pornography

Forty-six-year-old will be on National Sex Offender Registry for 20 years

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Power outage at Big White

It’s unknown why the power went out Tuesday afternoon

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Most Read