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by Mick the Ram
Police in South Yorkshire have arrested a man on suspicion of manslaughter following the death of American Ice Hockey player, Adam Johnson.
The development follows the shocking scenes that took place a little over two weeks ago, on 28 October, when Mr Johnson suffered a fatal injury to his neck after being slashed by the skate of an opponent, following a collision.
He was playing at the time for Nottingham Panthers against Sheffield Steelers in an Elite Ice Hockey League fixture, and as per UK law the name of the arrested man will not be made public until charged with a crime.
Nevertheless it is reasonably safe to assume that the individual in question is Matt Petgrave, who was the other player involved in the horrific incident. The arrested man remains in custody.
A post-mortem examination confirmed that Mr Johnson, 29, a native of Minnesota, had died as a result of a fatal neck injury.
Video footage captured the moment in the second period of the game when Mr Johnson fell to the ice after a clash which didn’t initially seem to be anything out of the ordinary. He is then seen to attempt to skate towards the bench while holding his neck, as blood covered the ice in a devastating scene.
He was rushed to hospital, but sadly Adam Johnson was pronounced dead some time later that evening. The appalling incident was described at the time as a “freak accident”. There were 8,000 fans inside the arena and many would have been shocked at what they witnessed, whilst others were left somewhat bewildered, as they were asked to calmly leave due to a major medical emergency.
Police call on specialists to help with investigation
Detective Chief Superintendent Becs Horsfall of the South Yorkshire force said: “An investigation was launched immediately following this tragedy. We have been carrying out extensive inquiries to piece together the events which led to the loss of Adam in these unprecedented circumstances.”
She explained that they had called on the assistance of highly specialized experts in their field to assist with the inquiries and had support from the health and safety department of the Sheffield City Council.
Arrest comes as a surprise to many
The arrest several weeks into the investigation, does appear to be a surprising turn of events; but the Superintendent stressed that members of the public should refrain from “comment and speculation which could hinder” the case moving forward, before adding: “Adam’s death has sent shock waves through many communities, from our local residents here in Sheffield, to ice hockey fans across the world.”
Destined to be a star player
Mr Johnson grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota where he became a high school hockey star. He played two years of hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and later played for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL, during both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons; before his first move to play in Europe.
There he played initially in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) for the 2020-21 season, before returning to North America for spells with the Ontario Reign and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the American Hockey League.
He then went back to Europe to play for Augsburger Panther in Germany, before his switch to Nottingham in August of this year. The Panthers released a statement the day after the horrendous event, expressing how everyone at the club were “heartbroken” and “truly devastated” by the loss, and sent their thoughts to Adam’s family, his partner and all his friends. They also thanked everyone who “rushed to support Adam in the most testing of circumstances.”
Coroner’s call for compulsory neck guards
Mr Johnson’s inquest was opened and adjourned earlier this month. In a prevention of future deaths report, coroner Tanyka Rawden called for compulsory use of neck guards in ice hockey.
The sport’s top division in the UK, the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL), announced it would not enforce the use of neck guards, but would “strongly encourage” players and officials to wear them.