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.

 

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

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

North Island MLA Michele Babchuk. Photo contributed
COMMENTARY: MLA Michele Babchuk talks the future of forestry

‘These forests are important to every single one of us, myself included’

Dr. Prean Armogam hands over a cheque for $10,000 to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society president Rosaline Glynn. The money will be going towards a new roof for the Port Hardy seniors centre. This is the second donation Dr. Armogam has made to the society, giving them $5,000 a little over a year ago. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Doctor donates $10k to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society for new roof

This was the second donation Armogam has given to the society

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Most Read