Nottingham Panthers player Adam Johnson tragically died during a hockey game in England after Sheffield Steelers player Matt Petgrave’s skate slashed his throat during an unfortunate incident.
The horrifying incident has been described as a “freak accident,” but South Yorkshire Police is investigating the circumstances of Johnson’s death to determine whether Petgrave should face criminal charges.
The coroner investigating the death has relayed to the governing body of ice hockey in the UK that she is “sufficiently concerned that deaths may occur in the future” if neck guards are not worn.
Sheffield’s senior coroner Tanyka Rawden released a Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) Report in the wake of the death.
“During the course of the investigation, my inquiries revealed matters giving rise to concern. In my opinion, there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken. In the circumstances, it is my statutory duty to report to you.”
Mrs. Rawden outlined the ‘matters of concern’ as: “The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) recommends that neck guards or protectors are worn, but there is no requirement for ice hockey players over the age of 18 to wear equipment designed to protect the neck.
“In due course, the inquest will consider whether the use of a neck guard or protector could have prevented Mr Johnson’s death. At this stage in my investigation, however, I am sufficiently concerned that deaths may occur in the future if neck guards or protectors are not worn.”
The death of the 29-year-old shocked the hockey world, especially because the incident happened in front of 8,000 fans, including many children. Footage of him being slashed was bad enough but then it showed him being helped off the ice as blood came down gushing from his neck.
Petgrave is facing both the possibility of criminal charges and a civil lawsuit.
Involuntary manslaughter has been the most common charge brought up which involves unintentionally causing the death of another person as a result of recklessness, negligence, or an unlawful act. It’s unlikely that Petgrave will be charged criminally, an involuntary manslaughter charge is not out of the question.
The Johnston family has described Petgrave’s act as “reckless” and has demanded “justice.”