A player with the Western Hockey League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes who was burned by a campfire earlier this month has emerged from a medically induced coma.
Ryan Vandervlis, a 20-year old centre with the elite major junior team, suffered severe burns to the front of his body.
“He is now recovering at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary where he is heavily sedated to aid healing, facing months of recovery and multiple surgeries,” said a GoFundMe page created to raise money for his family.
Hurricanes general manager Peter Anholt said Vandervlis — known to his teammates as Vandy — has a long road to recovery.
“Vandy has got some challenges in front of him,” he told CTV Lethbridge. “We know he’s a fighter and now he’s come out of his coma which is really positive.
“He’ll see what challenges he has in front of him and the fighter will really kick in.”
Two other players — Jordy Bellerive, a Pittsburgh Penguins prospect, and alumnus Matt Alfaro, who now plays for the University of Calgary Dinos — were also injured and are expected to recover.
They were among a group of 10 young men who had gathered at the family home of Hurricanes alumnus Tyler Wong as part of a pre-wedding celebration.
The three injured men were sharing a bench in front of the firepit when there was an explosion. RCMP have said a substance was placed in the fire to start it and continue to investigate.
The GoFundMe account has been set up to help Vandervlis family members, who are from Red Deer, with expenses while they are in Calgary.
“The Vandervlis family have always been an integral part of our Red Deer community,” said the GoFundMe page. “Volunteering time and expertise has been a way of life for the Vandervlis family.
“Now the family needs our help, and we hope you’ll join us in sending positive thoughts and prayers to Ryan for a speedy recovery, to his family, to his friends, and to his hockey community.”
The organizer had set a goal of $25,000 but the page raised more than $50,000 in its first day. Any money that isn’t required for Vandervlis’ recovery will be donated to a non-profit organization, according to the page.
The Canadian Press