CALGARY — Tom and Michelle Straschnitzki have seen the best in people over the last three weeks as their son has worked to recover after being paralyzed in a crash between his hockey team’s bus and a transport truck.
On Monday, they also saw the worst.
Tom Straschnitzki said he woke up early and was alerted on Twitter that someone using Ryan’s name had set up a fake account and was seeking money for a GoFundMe campaign.
It had Ryan’s picture, as well as a photo of the Humboldt Broncos Saskatchewan junior hockey team.
“I phoned him and said, ‘Is this your Twitter account?’ And he freaked out and went, ‘No, it’s not. Everyone is going to think this is fake. My teammates are going to hate me thinking I’m trying to get money,’” Tom Straschnitzki told The Canadian Press.
“It took a long time to calm him down. I said, ‘We’ll take care of it. I kind of warned you this stuff can happen.’”
Straschnitzki alerted a couple of friends who contacted GoFundMe which shut down the campaign. Tweets from the fake account, which had over 1,700 followers, were deleted and the name was changed at least twice by mid-afternoon.
Straschnitzki tweeted a message to the person responsible for his son’s fake account and suggested that he “should meet me at the hospital today. This way he will be closer to emergency.”
He’s most worried about the impact on Ryan.
“Ryan wears everything on his sleeve. He’s kind of a little too trusting but now he knows this could happen,” he said.
“But if you look at the odds out of the millions that are supporting Ryan, that’s just one.”
Michelle Straschnitzki had hoped it wouldn’t happen, but said too often people try to take advantage of a tragedy.
“It reminds you that there are absolute jerks out there,” she said. “In the world that we live in, it’s not surprising. It’s disheartening, but it’s not surprising.”
A spokeswoman for GoFundMe said no funds were raised by the campaign, and the campaign organizer has also been banned from using the GoFundMe platform in the future.
“We have a dedicated team that works around the clock to monitor campaigns set up to support the families and victims of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy, and they are continuing to review all campaigns,” Rachel Hollis wrote in an email.
Hollis added it is not permitted to mislead, defraud, or deceive any user on a GoFundMe campaign. If it happens, she said GoFundMe takes swift action which can include removing the campaign, banning the user,and refunding donors.
Ryan, 19, continues to undergo treatment and rehabilitation.
The collision April 6 in rural Saskatchewan is still being investigated. RCMP have only said the transport truck was in the intersection when the crash occurred.
The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game when 16 people were killed and 13 were injured.