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

‘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, 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

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Parking permits for people with disabilities

These permits are issued to the person, not the vehicle owner or driver.

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Newton’s first law of motion

I could have sworn I told them to help each other get unbuckled and to come inside.

Commercial property owners in Duncan will have an opportunity to beef up their security in 2021 with matching grants from the municipality. (File photo)
City of Duncan to help commercial properties increase security

Municipality to set up matching grant opportunities

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Most Read