Injured Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki checks out the view from his family’s home in Airdrie on April 27, 2019. After several months of renovations to the house Ryan and his family were able to move back in. Photo by Leah Hennel
Leah Hennel / jpg
There’s no mistaking which house on a sleepy street in Airdrie belongs to Humboldt Broncos crash survivor Ryan Straschnitzki and his family.Green and yellow LED lights that represent the hockey team’s colours flash around the trim of the home and a bench made of hockey sticks, including a pair that say Straz Strong and Humboldt Strong, sits on the front porch.In the window ledge next to front door is an upright hockey stick with a green and gold ribbon taped to the upper portion, just like the many hockey sticks that were placed on doorsteps across the country after the the bus crash that left 16 dead.It’s a reminder of the tragedy that struck the Straschnitzki family, but also the strength they have shown over the past year.After living in hospital and hotels for more than a year, the family of six returned home on Saturday for the first time since the Humboldt crash last April 6. The house underwent a dramatic renovation to make it accessible for Straschnitzki, who was paralyzed from the chest down after the team’s bus collided with a semi-truck.“I’m speechless,” he said. “It’s like a whole new house.”Related
There was barely a moment where you didn’t see a smile spread across his face.“The last time he lit up like that was the first time he got on the ice back in July,” said his dad Tom, speaking about the Straschnitzki’s return to the rink to play sledge hockey after the accident.It was an emotional homecoming for the entire family.
Michelle Straschnitzki and daughter Jaden check out Ryan’s living area at their home in Airdrie on April 27, 2019. After several months of renovations to the house Ryan and his family were able to move back in. Photo by Leah Hennel
Leah Hennel /
“It’s been a heck of a year and a bit, but we are going to celebrate this moment and keep in mind why we’re here now. Everybody is still in our heart,” said Michelle.The defining feature of the transformed home is an elevator from the garage, which can now take Ryan to the basement and main floor of the home, where entryways, tabletops and other design elements have been made fully-accessible.The basement is like Ryan’s personal bachelor pad and is equipped with a kitchenette, barrier-free bathroom and a separate heating unit for his bedroom to help manage his temperature because he is unable to sense when his body is too hot or too cold.“It gives me more independence,” Straschnitzki said.It’s also decorated with tons of hockey memorabilia, including signed jerseys, paintings and tributes to his fallen Humboldt teammates.
Injured Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki checks out his living area in his family’s home in Airdrie on April 27, 2019. After several months of renovations to the house Ryan and his family were able to move back in. Photo by Leah Hennel
Leah Hennel /
One of Canada’s most recognizable home renovators, Mike Holmes, teamed up with West Ridge Fine Homes in Airdrie to transform the home and make the unveiling a welcome surprise not just for Ryan but for his family, who also had renovated rooms upstairs.“We’re home and maybe now we can start to heal. I don’t think we were healing before,” said mom Michelle, with tears in her email@example.com