He said he is determined to work hard on his rehabilitation as he continues to recover from the collision. LaBelle has no recollection of the crash or the two weeks that followed.
The Saskatoon-born skater was in his second full Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season on April 6 when the team’s bus collided with a semi-truck en route to a playoff game in Nipawin.
Sixteen people died, including players and team staff. Thirteen others were injured.
“It was a privilege and an honour to get to know so many incredible people: Coach Darcy, Coach Mark, Dayna, Glen, Biebs, Brody, Schatzy, Bouls, Swack, Lukes, Joey, Leichter, Tobes, Herold, Tommy, Hunts … I miss you all,” he said in a statement.
“As last season’s playoffs kicked off, our team began wearing workout shirts with the word ‘believe’ across the front. We believed in each other. I believe people will never forget what happened to us. I believe we will get through this together.”
He has been recovering from multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, a concussion, nerve damage impacting the legs and left arm, internal bleeding, and several other internal injuries, and approximately 20 broken bones.
Last month, LaBelle’s family said he was working with health care professionals at Saskatoon City Hospital’s rehabilitation centre.
“In the early stages of my recovery I needed help to sit up – help to do all those things we take for granted, like eating and brushing my teeth,” he said in a statement.
“It was awful, but today I am able to walk and look forward to eventually running and skating. I am healing, and I am feeling better every day.”
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“I have been tutored by my teachers to help me complete my last three high school classes, and plan to graduate from École Canadienne-Française at the end of this month,” LaBelle said in a statement.
Before joining the Broncos, LaBelle was a member of the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
With files from Global’s Thomas Piller