'We'll always be together': Humboldt Broncos player sees survival as 2nd chance to help the world

Ryan Straschnitzki, a Humboldt Broncos player who was paralyzed from the chest down in Friday's collision, is pushing through the pain and trying to keep positive.

Ryan Straschnitzki broke his neck and back, has no motion from chest down

Ryan Straschnitzki is still processing the devastating loss of his teammates, coaches, bus driver and others as he recovers from his injuries in a Saskatoon hospital, his mother says. (Tom Straschnitzki)

Ryan Straschnitzki, a Humboldt Broncos player who was paralyzed from the chest down in Friday's collision, is pushing through the pain and trying to keep positive.

His neck, back and left clavicle are broken. He can't move any part of his body below his chest and he's not expected to walk again. But he's alive.

"It was pretty devastating seeing my teammates lying there, bloodied and whatnot. My first instinct was to get up and help them, but I couldn't move my legs," Straschnitzki recalled.

Straschnitzki, who is from Airdrie, Alta., was one of 29 people on board a team bus en route to Nipawin when it collided with a semi-truck, killing 16 on board and sending others to hospital. Ten of his teammates and six others died in the collision. 

Recovering Broncos crash victim speaks from hospital

5 years ago
Duration 14:50
Featured VideoRyan Straschnitzki talks with CBC's Heather Hiscox

Earlier this week, Straschnitzki met Vivian York, one of the first people to arrive on scene in the immediate aftermath of the fatal crash. 

She recounted the crash to Straschnitzki as he lay in bed. He said he remembers the moments before the crash but blacked out during the incident.

Pictured is the intersection where the crash occurred. Originally, there was concern the trees may have obstructed a semi driver's ability to see a bus coming toward the intersection. According to a statement of facts, the trees would have not proved an obstruction if the semi driver had stopped at the stop sign. (CBC )

He was texting his girlfriend as the team approached Nipawin, at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335.

The last thing Straschnitzki heard was the voice of Glen Doerksen, the driver of the bus who died in the collision.

"All of a sudden the bus driver screamed 'whoa,' and I saw the semi-truck in front of us and blacked out," Straschnitzki said. 

When he came to, Straschnitzki was facing the site of the collision. He doesn't know how long he lay on the ground.

Straschnitzki broke his back and cannot move any limbs below his chest, but is recovering. (@straszr/Twitter)

Straschnitzki views his survival as a second chance from God, an opportunity to do his part to improve the world in whatever way he can.

Hockey is the obvious answer, he said, adding that he has expressed an interest in continuing his sports career in sledge hockey. Becoming a public speaker is another potential avenue.

Right now, all Straschnitzki is thinking about are his teammates.

"We're not alone here. I mean the teammates that we lost, our bond is so strong that we'll always be together."


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Vivian York as Vivian Shumlanski.
    Apr 12, 2018 4:21 PM CT

With files from CBC News Network