The cover of “Crossroads” by Kaleb Dahlgren is shown in this undated handout photo. Dahlgren is one of the survivors of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April 2018. His book was released on March 16. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO — HarperCollins Canada

The cover of “Crossroads” by Kaleb Dahlgren is shown in this undated handout photo. Dahlgren is one of the survivors of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April 2018. His book was released on March 16. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO — HarperCollins Canada

‘Strength in being vulnerable:’ Broncos bus crash survivor tells his story in book

Crash left Dahlgren with a traumatic brain injury, and multiple other injuries

Even before he was seriously injured in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash as a 20-year-old, Kaleb Dahlgren had already faced his share of adversity.

He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of four. As a young hockey player, he grieved the deaths of a teammate in a car accident and a strength coach to cancer. And, at 16, he nearly lost his dad to a serious illness.

“It really put things in perspective in my life,” Dahlgren said in a recent interview from his home in Saskatoon.

“We really don’t know how long we have.”

Dahlgren, now 23, was one of 13 players injured on April 6, 2018, when his junior hockey team’s bus and a semi-trailer collided in rural Saskatchewan. Sixteen people — including 10 players — were killed.

He tells his story with the help of a ghost writer in the book “Crossroads,” which was released Tuesday.

The crash nearly three years ago left Dahlgren with a traumatic brain injury, neck and nerve damage, a fractured back and multiple other injuries.

He still can’t remember anything from the crash. He woke up in hospital four days later.

Despite his lack of memory, Dahlgren said he tried to be open and honest in the book about who he is as a person.

“It was super difficult to do it in the first place, but I also find there’s a lot of strength in being vulnerable,” he said. “The writing process was super hard for me.

“One of the harder parts was Chapter 16. That chapter was super, super emotional.”

In that chapter, Dahlgren writes about each of the 16 people who died.

“We were all a team. We were one,” he writes.

He recalled team broadcaster Tyler Bieber’s “voice of the Broncos” and Dayna Brons being there for everyone as the team’s athletic therapist. He wrote about how assistant coach Mark Cross was like a big brother and how team captain Logan Schatz had the biggest personality in the dressing room.

Although Dahlgren said it was difficult to write about his friends on the bus, it was also “cathartic in my healing journey.”

He said it helped him to think about the people he’s had in his life — particularly his parents, coaches and teammates — and how they’ve helped him become the person he is today.

“I was able to reflect on that throughout this process,” he said. “It was also cathartic to finally put some thoughts to paper and, in a way, set the Broncos stuff down and move forward in my life.”

Dahlgren said he will always carry the weight of the crash with him, just as he will always have a brain injury and visible scars.

He’s still not cleared to play contact hockey, but he had been practising and working out with his team at York University in Toronto before COVID-19 hit.

“I’m really lucky to even be able to be in that situation in the first place,” he said. His brain scans showed he had 10 spots where he had suffered a bleed, which made the doctors wonder why his physical injuries weren’t a lot worse.

“I’m coined a miracle.”

He is finishing a commerce degree at York and has applied to a couple of other schools to continue his studies and become a chiropractor.

Dahlgren is also an ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and set up the Dahlgren’s Diabeauties program to mentor diabetic children as a way to help others.

He said he has similar reasons for writing the book.

“I didn’t want to write a book unless it gave back to others.”

He would like it to generate awareness about hope and resilience, and is donating some of the proceeds to STARS, a non-profit that uses helicopters as air ambulances across the Prairies.

“They save lives every day and they saved lives on April 6th, too,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2021.

Humboldt Broncos

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Downtown Red Deer patio restaurants have been busy this summer. Contributed photo
City of Red Deer expediting patio application process for restaurants

The City of Red Deer is allowing businesses to install patios prior… Continue reading

RDC Queens forward Camryn Wallan was named the 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Wallan, Podgorenko named 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Athletes of the Year

Even with the cancellation of the 2020-21 Alberta Colleges Athletic Association, RDC… Continue reading

A new Angus Reid poll says that close to two-thirds of Albertans think premier Jason Kenney is doing a bad job handling the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
75% of Albertans disapprove of Kenney’s pandemic leadership: poll

Nearly 75 per cent of Albertans believe Premier Jason Kenney is doing… Continue reading

Alberta reported its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since December 16 on Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Alberta reports 1,521 additional COVID-19 cases, 674 new variant cases

Daily case total the highest since mid-December

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is seen in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. The University of Victoria and the head coach of its women's rowing team have denied allegations of demeaning and aggressive treatment outlined in a lawsuit filed last summer by a former student and team member. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Canada's Julia Grosso, right, and Wales' Natasha Harding battle for the ball during the women's international friendly soccer match at Leckwith Stadium, Wales, Friday, April 9, 2021. Canada blanked Wales 3-0 but lost captain Christine Sinclair to an injury in the fist half of a soccer friendly Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-PA, Nick Potts
Canada blanks Wales in soccer friendly but has injury scare with Christine Sinclair

Canada blanks Wales in soccer friendly but has injury scare with Christine Sinclair

Canada's DTH Van Der Merwe, left, is tackled by Hong Kong's Toby Fenn, during the 2019 Japan Rugby Union World Cup qualifying match between Canada and Hong Kong, in Marseille, southern France, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Claude Paris
Canadian rugby star DTH van der Merwe enjoying life in Los Angeles

Canadian rugby star DTH van der Merwe enjoying life in Los Angeles

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher, right, makes a shot as second Brad Thiessen sweeps against Germany at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Justin Rose, of England, hits out of a bunker on the seventh hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament on Friday, April 9, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

People shop for essential items at Costco as pallets block off aisles and sections that have been deemed non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, April 8, 2021. Retailers in Ontario are adjusting to new lockdown restrictions with stores like grocers, discount and big box chains roping off non-essential items from underwear to calculators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Ontario retailers adjust to new rules, non-essential goods off-limits to shoppers

Ontario retailers adjust to new rules, non-essential goods off-limits to shoppers

A worker smooths concrete at a construction site in Toronto on January 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls, Statistics Canada says

Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls, Statistics Canada says

FILE - In this Tuesday, March 30, 2021 file photo, a banner encouraging workers to vote in labor balloting is shown at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. Vote counting in the union push in Bessemer is expected to start as early as Thursday, April 8, but hundreds of contested ballots could muddy the outcome if it’s a close race. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File)
Amazon warehouse workers reject union bid in Alabama

Amazon warehouse workers reject union bid in Alabama

Most Read