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3 Nov, 2023 18:07

Family of dead ice hockey star demand ‘justice’

Adam Johnson was killed during a game in the UK last week after his throat was cut by an opposing player’s skate
Family of dead ice hockey star demand ‘justice’

The family of American ice hockey player Adam Johnson, who died in a freak accident during a game in the UK last weekend, have called for “justice” from British authorities, saying the actions of the opposition player that led to his death were “reckless.”

Johnson, 29, died after suffering a fatal neck injury while playing for English ice hockey team the Nottingham Panthers in a game against the Sheffield Steelers in Sheffield last Saturday. In what appears to have been a freak accident, Steelers player Matt Petgrave kicked his leg up towards Johnson after a collision between the two, causing a large gash to his neck and massive blood loss.

After the incident, Johnson attempted to skate towards his team bench before collapsing to the ice. He was later pronounced dead after being transported to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.

“It was very reckless,” his aunt, Kari Johnson, said, according to Newsweek, on Thursday. “I just want [British authorities] to get it right. We are looking for justice for Adam.”

South Yorkshire Police confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that they have been “carrying out a range of inquiries, including reviewing footage, talking to witnesses and seeking the advice and support of highly specialized experts” as part of a probe into the fatal incident.

With video footage of the incident having gone viral online, some social media commenters have questioned Petgrave’s role in Johnson’s death, and how his skate came to connect with the player’s neck. Others, though, have dismissed such speculation and called it a “freak accident,” and offered support to Petgrave.

Kari Johnson said that what happened on the ice last Saturday was “not hockey.”

“You don’t take your leg and kick somebody and cut their throat. I’m sorry,” she said, according to Newsweek. “We were watching the game in real time and we did witness what happened. Horrific is the word to describe it.”

She added that for Petgrave “to have that leg come up that high and do a kicking motion like he did, that is just unacceptable.” However, she conceded that “Mr. Petgrave probably didn’t even think about what the consequences could be of that happening, but there comes a time when you have to realize, that’s not hockey.”

The incident that led to Johnson’s death happened three decades after one of the most infamous injuries in National Hockey League (NHL) history, when Buffalo Sabres player Clint Malarchuk’s carotid artery and jugular vein were cut by an opposing player's skate during a nationally televised game in the US.

He lost 1.5 liters of blood but his life was saved by a Sabres athletic trainer who had served as a US army combat medic during the Vietnam War.