Humboldt Broncos bus crash claims 16th victim, as athletic therapist dies in hospital
'She was just a very special person,' aunt says of Dayna Brons
Dayna Brons, the lone woman aboard the Humboldt Broncos' team bus when it collided with a transport truck on April 6, has died.
Family and friends had been waiting anxiously, hoping the 24-year-old athletic therapist would pull through after she suffered serious head trauma. Her aunt, Audrey Hopfner, visited her niece yesterday and felt optimistic that she looked better and would recover.
Instead, on Wednesday afternoon, Hopfner received word her niece had died, news that left her speechless.
"She was a beautiful, kind human being. She was fun to be with. She laughed easily," said Hopfner. "She was just a very special person."
Her family released a statement to say Brons died peacefully, surrounded by "those she loved and those who loved her. Dayna will be forever remembered for her joyful smile, and her passion and love of sport."
Hopfner said that smile was the memory she would most cherish of her niece.
"She had such a beautiful smile."
Over the last few days, lacrosse and soccer teams that Brons had worked with offered their support for her on social media. So did Canadian women's hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser, an Olympian.
"'The only girl on the boys team' ... Dayna I've been thinking of you a lot! Praying you pull through," she wrote.
This is Dayna Brons. She is the trainer for the Broncos and is from Marysburg. She is currently in the hospital. Please keep her and the Brons family in your thoughts. Keep fighting Dayna. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/humboldtstrong?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#humboldtstrong</a> <a href="https://t.co/ogLfs3IV12">pic.twitter.com/ogLfs3IV12</a>—@MarysburgSK
Our hearts go out to Kinesiology and Health Studies grad Dayna Brons, who was a passenger on the Humboldt Broncos team bus and remains in hospital. We are praying for Dayna's family and all others affected by this horrific event.—@URKinesiology
Please keep one of our own in your thoughts. <br>Humboldt Broncos physiotherapist Dayna Brons was on the bus of that terrible crash this weekend. The last information I heard was that she is still in the hospital listed in critical condition.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BroncosStrong?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BroncosStrong</a> <a href="https://t.co/BI3xym9Wwt">pic.twitter.com/BI3xym9Wwt</a>—@CATA_AT
Brons was originally from Lake Lenore, Sask., about 30 kilometres northeast of Humboldt, and had gone to school at the University of Regina, getting a degree in kinesiology and health studies.
"I grew up playing different sports, I really loved to play the game and I just loved being active, so it was suggested to me to be an athletic therapist," she said in an interview in 2016, following her hiring by the Broncos.
Brons recalled having grown up watching the team, and having a place to land when she got back. She said there was "no problem at all for me to come back home."
On Friday night, she was travelling on a bus with the team for Game 5 in a semifinal series between the Humboldt Broncos and the Nipawin Hawks when it collided with a semi-truck. Fifteen people were declared dead in the aftermath, and another 14 — including Brons — were injured.
Her family said Brons had been "extremely proud" to be part of the Broncos' family.
They offered their thanks to the people who cared for Brons, as well as "everyone across Saskatchewan and Canada for their love and prayers during this very difficult time."
Junior A lacrosse team the Saskatchewan SWAT also worked with Brons in the past.
On Thursday, they released a statement which said they would pay tribute to Brons by holding a moment of silence and flower ceremony before their April 14 game.
"The Saskatchewan SWAT Lacrosse Club would like to offer our sincere condolences to the Brons family during this heart-breaking time," the release said.
- A previous version of this story stated Dayna Brons was 25 years old. In fact, she was 24.Apr 11, 2018 5:51 PM CT
With files from The Canadian Press