Injured Humboldt Broncos player hopes to get back on the ice
Kaleb Dahlgren, one of the survivors of the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash stands in his home in Saskatoon, Sask., on Monday, May, 7, 2018. (Kayle Neis / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Kaleb Dahlgren suffered a broken vertebra, a fractured skull and brain damage in last month’s horrific Humboldt Bronco’s bus crash, but he’s determined to get back on the ice.
"I just still have the passion to play and I want to do it for everybody on that bus,” Dahlgren, 20, told CTV Saskatoon on Thursday.
“That’s a little bit more motivation right now for me to fully recover," he added.
In the days after the April 6 collision that killed 16 and wounded 13 others, the world rallied in support. A fundraising campaign raised more than $15 million. Tributes poured in from around the NHL. Dahlgren spent most of that time in the hospital. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian women’s hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser visited the injured men in the hospital.
"Honestly, I couldn't even tell you what the last month's been like,” he said. “It's been a crazy part of my life and I'm just trying to take it all in right now."
Dahlgren has now returned home to his parents, Mark and Anita. His bones are healed, but his brain injury is keeping him from a return to hockey at this point.
Mark Dahlgren said they’ve been told only three to five per cent of people fully recover from this type of brain injury.
Dahlgren has few memories from the moment of the collision. He remembers putting on his headphones and that’s basically it.
“I don't remember hearing anything because I had headphones in,” he said. “I don't remember seeing anything because I was looking down.”
One of the few hints Dahlgren has about what happened on the bus comes from a mark near his eye, which appears to be an alphanumeric imprint of “5C.”
"What I'm guessing is when the bus slammed on the brakes, I flew forward and I hit either seat 5C or I hit the top 5C,” he said. “I think I flew about 10 seats forward."
At the time of the accident, Mark and Anita were at the Nipawin arena waiting for the bus to arrive, ahead of the team’s game against the Niapwin Hawks.
"All we wanted to do was find Kaleb,” Mark Dahlgren said. “If he had passed away or if he survived, we just wanted to be with him.”
Dahlgren isn’t the only surviving Broncos player with a desire to return to hockey, Ryan Straschnitzki, who was left paralyzed from the chest down following the collision, plans to take up sledge hockey with the goal of making the Canadian Paralympic team one day.
With a report from CTV Saskatoon’s Pat McKay