Teammate talks of flashbacks after Adam Johnson death as arrested man rebailed

A teammate of an ice hockey player who died after he was hit in the neck by an opponent’s skate has described how he thinks about the tragic incident every day and suffers flashbacks.

Victor Bjorkung was speaking as a man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter following Adam Johnson’s death was rebailed by South Yorkshire Police, who are continuing to investigate the events at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena on October 28 last year.

Bjorkung told the BBC it was a “freak accident” and how it was “too fast to judge” what happened from the footage of the match.

He said: “I do get a lot of flashbacks and they’re not very pleasant flashbacks.

The Nottingham Panthers v Manchester Storm – Adam Johnson Memorial Game – Motorpoint Arena
Adam Johnson’s death shocked the ice hockey world (Bradley Collyer/PA)

He said: “I do think about it every day,” adding: “That’s something that’s going to stick with me for the rest of my life.”

Bjorkung was playing alongside Johnson for Nottingham Panthers in the match against Sheffield Steelers and had just passed to him when he was hit by the skate.

He said: “The people that were on the ice and the people in the stand, they know that no-one wants to do something like this.

“And it’s such a freak accident. And it’s so fast. You can watch the video. You can zoom in and you can slow it down.

Bjorkung described how he later suffered a laceration injury to his groin but said he was “lucky”, as it just missed an artery.

He has since proposed the development of slash-proof undergear as well, saying all players should wear neck guards.

The player said Johnson, who was a 29-year-old American, was “an unbelievable guy”.

A man was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in November and then bailed by South Yorkshire Police.

On Thursday he was rebailed until June 26, the force confirmed in a statement.

It added: “Adam’s loved ones remain at the forefront of our minds as this complex investigation continues.”

Johnson’s death shocked the ice hockey world, especially as the incident was witnessed by thousands of fans at the arena in Sheffield.

In January Sheffield’s senior coroner, Tanyka Rawden, suspended her investigation while the police inquiry took its course.

It emerged later that Ms Rawden had issued a Prevention of Future Deaths Report to Ice Hockey UK and the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) about the use of neck guards in the sport.

In the report, the coroner said she is “sufficiently concerned that deaths may occur in the future if neck guards or protectors are not worn”, with the bodies given 56 days to say what action has been taken – or why action has not been taken.

Neck guards have been mandatory in the Elite League (EIHL), in which the Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers compete, since January 1.

This followed the International Ice Hockey Federation’s decision in December to mandate the use of neck laceration protectors for its competitions.

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