Humboldt Broncos hockey player Ryan Straschnitzki, who was paralyzed from the chest down in a devastating crash involving the team’s bus earlier this month, said he’s been told he may never walk again but wants to prove everyone wrong.
“Just hoping to one day get to that point where I’ll be able to walk again,” Straschnitzki said Wednesday morning.
“Some people have said I won’t be able to but I kind of want to prove them wrong and each day do something more and more — sit in the chair longer, try to sit up longer, just little things like that.”
WATCH: Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor Ryan Straschnitzski said Wednesday despite being told he may never walk again, he’s determined to overcome any challenges that may come his way. Christa Dao reports.
Straschnitzki spoke about his health and road to recovery from the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, where he’s been since last Thursday after flying home to Alberta from Saskatchewan.
The 19-year-old suffered a broken back in the April 6 crash near Tisdale, Sask. that left 16 people dead and 13 others, including Straschnitzki, injured.
With his parents and friend by his side, Straschnitzki said he’s taking his recovery day by day and overall, has been feeling pretty good. He said the toughest challenge has been the pain.
“Just getting up every two hours at night and the pain. But again, pain is temporary so that’s what I just keep in the back of my mind and I just say, ‘You can get through this, you can do it.'”
Watch below: Paralyzed Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki told the media on Wednesday that he is excited to be back home in Alberta to be closer to friends and family.
Straschnitzki recalled the moments leading up to and following the deadly crash. He said he was getting ready for the game, texting his girlfriend, when he heard a loud scream from the front of the bus.
“A semi-truck pulled in front of us and that’s all I remember,” he said.
“I kind of blacked out and I woke up however long later, my back was against the semi and I saw my teammates in front of me. My first instinct was to get up and try to help but I couldn’t move my body. It was terrible.”
The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing. Last Thursday, Saskatchewan RCMP confirmed the truck the bus collided with was in the intersection when the collision happened, but didn’t say whether it was moving or stopped.
No charges have been laid and RCMP said last Thursday it was too early to say whether criminal charges will be laid.
Straschnitzki said he’s been able to keep his mind off the crash by focusing on his rehab, but admits what happened hasn’t really sunk in yet.
“I have my moments. Everyone’s going to have their moments to think about it and let out some emotion. I’m not thinking about it constantly,” he said. “For now I’m just trying to push through and get better for those guys that didn’t make it.”
The support from his teammates, those in the hockey community and people around the world has helped immensely, he said.
“The amount of support and how much it’s gone viral, I think, is also helping with Bronco family members. It’s awesome. I can’t thank you guys enough,” he said.
“We’ve gotten so much closer. Not all of us live in Alberta or Saskatchewan so we have a group chat and every day we’re texting there and if somebody needs someone to talk to we’ll contact them and talk to them. I think after all this we’ve gotten closer.”
Straschnitzki has remained extremely positive in the days and weeks following the crash. His parents expressed their profound pride in their son and the way he’s handled himself over the past several weeks.
“We always were proud but we’re very proud of him. Just the help he gives everyone else, he’s paying it forward,” his father, Tom, said.
Tom said he doesn’t know when they’ll be able to bring their son home. He compared his son’s recovery to a hockey game, acknowledging it’s going to be a long road.
“We just take it shift by shift. We’re still in the first period, fourth shift in, so we still have a full game to go.”
Watch below: Straschnitzki explains saying positive despite being paralyzed
In the days following the crash, Straschnitzki was adamant he will return to hockey in some capacity. He reinforced his devotion to that goal on Wednesday.
“Growing up I just loved being on the ice. It’s what I did constantly no matter what, even during the summer time. You shoot pucks, you play road hockey and it’s just the best thing. So I’m trying to pursue maybe a career in sledge hockey after all of this. If that doesn’t work, out maybe coaching or scouting, just any way I can be part of the game.”
On Wednesday morning, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said five people remained in hospital, none in critical condition.
Watch below: Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki, who was paralyzed in the team’s deadly bus crash earlier this month, said Wednesday his dream is to play sledge hockey and to one day walk again.