There are 14 people who survived the devastating Humboldt Broncos bus crash and 13 are still recovering in the hospital.
A Twitter photo showing three players holding hands in their hospital beds drew thousands of responses from people offering messages of support and solidarity.
Derek Grayson and Nick bonding and healing in hospital pic.twitter.com/DzesIoT27B
— R J patter (@rjpatter) April 7, 2018
Tom Straschnitzki is the father of surviving Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki. He said they’re all just happy he’s alive, despite being paralyzed from the waist down.
“Me and my wife Michelle are holding up very well because we get to see him and touch him and hold him and stare at him and look at him — because he’s alive and breathing,” Straschnitzki said in an interview with 980 CJME.
When he first woke up in the hospital — before anything else — he said his son was immediately concerned about the fate of his coaches, fellow teammates and the play-by-play radio announcer.
“Ryan read for about two hours about everything, and then Ryan went ‘I didn’t think it was that big,'” Straschnitzki explained. “So he held up well. Then, with the news that he won’t walk again, he held up well on that, too.”
Despite his life-changing injuries, Straschnitzki said his son is in good spirits and considering a new path in life.
“He also asked about sledge hockey, so he’s already focusing on something else.”
Several special guests visited Ryan and the other survivors in the hospital on Sunday. He said a visit from Canadian hockey broadcasting legends Don Cherry and Ron Maclean was a particular highlight.
“They came in here and Don told some stories and Ron told some stories to Ryan, and Ryan couldn’t stop smiling. It really lifted his spirits and I just can’t thank those guys enough,” Straschnitzki said.
Among the special celebrity guests, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it was a visit and a gift from a stranger named Travis Oslanski that actually stood the most.
Wow. This fantastic guy. Travis Oslanski (Red) flew in from Airdrie today and had to give Ryan his old Airdrie Bantam jacket. Chatted with Ryan. Really perked up my son. Red flew back already. No AMAZNING. Red said Hockey Brothers support eachother. pic.twitter.com/rhHHfwlqIB
— Strazsr (@strazsr) April 8, 2018
“I’m from Airdrie, I just hopped on a plane, flew here and I want to give you my Bantam jacket from 25 years ago. We’re hockey brothers and I just want you to have this and remember we’re here for you,” Straschnitzki recounted Oslanski telling his son.
After chatting with Ryan for a while, his visitor looked at his watch and said he had to catch a flight home.
Straschnitzki has been posting regular updates to Twitter and thanking people for the outpouring of support. He also responded to a personal message from someone connected with the first responder, who helped keep his son stable at the scene of the crash.
My brother in law wishes the very best for you. He was a first responder that helped keep you stable at the crash site. Our thoughts and prayers for a full recovery. #StrazStrong
— CoachingForSolutions (@StaceyNGreer) April 9, 2018
One of the other survivors of the crash, Nicholas Shumlanski sent out the following statement late on Sunday night.
— Nicholas Shumlanski (@nickshumlanski) April 9, 2018
Another photo was tweeted from the hospital bed of Bronco’s #9 Graysen Cameron.
— With files from Brent Bosker