Almost one year ago, the Humboldt Broncos were involved in a devastating crash that left 16 people dead — including 10 players — and 13 others with injuries. The last player still in hospital, defenseman Morgan Gobeil, has finally been released after his 333-day stay.
Gobeil suffered a serious head injury in the crash. Over his 333 days in hospital, the 19-year-old has undergone several surgeries, as well as physical, occupational, and speech therapy. While he has made significant progress, Gobeil is still not able to walk or talk. In a statement issued via the Saskatoon Health Authority, his family said that they believe those are milestones that they “will someday be able to celebrate.”
TSN’s Frank Seravalli first shared the news of Gobeil’s release, accompanied by a photograph of the defenseman holding the kickplate that remained with him through his stay. The kickplate is signed by all of the surviving Broncos players, with the simple word “BELIEVE” at the center. It was delivered to to hospital, just days after the crash, by Humboldt Broncos Assistant Coach Chris Beaudry with the intention of remaining until the last player left.
Awesome news. After 333 days, @HumboldtBroncos defenceman Morgan Gobeil is being released from hospital after many medical procedures and hours upon hours of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. This "BELIEVE" kickplate is leaving w him, there until the last one went home. pic.twitter.com/vks7qwOASX
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 4, 2019
Gobeil will now receive outpatient support at Saskatoon City Hospital, as well as through a team of therapists throughout Saskatoon that the family have gathered to assist in his continued rehabilitation.
“The road is long and challenging, but we are confident Morgan’s work ethic and determination will be the cornerstone of his
recovery,” the family wrote, while asking for the continued respect of his privacy through the remainder of his therapy.
Gobeil’s release from the hospital also coincided with the Humboldt Broncos qualifying for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs for the 2018-19 season. The roster, which was largely built from scratch following a training camp in May, also features two surviving players from the crash.
Centers Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter both wear the A for the Broncos. Camrud suffered severe concussion from the crash, as well as loss of feeling in one of his arms and neck issues. Over the course of his regular season, Camrud tallied 27 goals and 28 assists. Patter, who continues to struggle with a leg injury, notched 10 goals and 11 assists.
Michael Clarke, who was new to the Broncos for this season, and wears the A alongside Camrud and Patter, spoke highly of their influence on team to The Canadian Press. “Seeing two guys, Brayden and Derek, to be able to play through something like that and come back this year,” he said. “They want to play the game they love — it motivates the rest of the guys.”
The Broncos will face the Estevan Bruins in the first round beginning on March 15. Scott Barney, the Broncos interim head coach, said in an interview with the Canadian Press that the series will be tough. “They’ve got a great team down there. They’ve got a lot of older, veteran players who have a lot of experience,” Barney said.
Barney was the assistant coach during the first half of the season, but stepped into head coaching duties after the late Darcy Haugan’s replacement, Nathan Oystrick, left the organisation in December. That shake-up didn’t seem to break the Broncos’ stride.
“The guys came together pretty quickly out of training camp,” Barney added in his interview. “It seems like they are all playing for each other.”
With the Broncos making the playoffs not even a year following that devastation, Barney’s assessment would appear to ring true.
In January, it was reported by ESPN that the driver responsible for the crash, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, had pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death, and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. The case will not be moving forward to trial.
Sidhu’s attorney, Mark Brayford, said in January, “I asked him what his position was. And his position to me was, ‘I just want to plead guilty. I don’t want you to plea bargain, I don’t want a trial.’ Mr. Sidhu advised me, ‘I don’t want to make things any worse. I can’t make things any better, but I certainly won’t want to make them worse by having a trial.'”
In a statement, Broncos president Jamie Brockman said, “Mr. Sidhu’s guilty pleas are a positive step in the healing process for the survivors, grieving families, the team and our community. I commend Mr. Sidhu for taking responsibility for his actions and sparing the survivors and the families the anguish and turmoil of rehashing this tragedy in court.”
With the one year anniversary looming, Sports Illustrated have also released a tribute through their cover article, “The Logan Effect,” focusing on the story of Logan Boulet. Boulet, who died in the Broncos crash, signed up as an organ donor just four weeks before his death — a move inspired by his late trainer, Ric Suggitt — and as a result saved the lives of six people.
It sparked a national conversation, and tens of thousands of people across Canada signed up to become donors, in a phenomenon now known as The Logan Boulet Effect.
The short documentary, and full story, is available on the Sports Illustrated website and is well worth taking the time out to read and watch in its entirety.
Headline photo: Frank Seravalli
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