Red Deer-raised Lethbridge Hurricane emerges from coma

Suffered significant burns in campfire incident earlier in June

A Red Deer-born Western Hockey League player, badly burned in a fire, has emerged from a more than a week long medically induced coma.

Ryan Vandervlis, 20, was one of three Lethbridge Hurricanes injured in an explosion at a campfire on June 15 near Cochrane. The explosion occurred as the fire was being lit.

Vandervlis was badly burned in the explosion and placed into the Foothills Hospital intensive care unit and put into the medically induced coma. He emerged from the coma Sunday morning and has since been transferred to a burn unit.

Vandervlis’ teammates Matt Alfaro and Jordy Bellerive were also hurt in the incident. Alfaro was discharged from hospital on Thursday and Bellerive was discharged on Tuesday.

A GoFundMe page called Rally for Ryan, was set up on behalf of Vandervlis’ parents Barb and Rene on Sunday hoping to raise money to support his road to recovery. It has raised more than $54,000 in two days, more than twice its goal of $25,000. The page, set up by close family friends, said the money is to help support Vandervlis and his family as he faces months of recovery and multiple surgeries.

The night of the incident, the players were at the home of Tyler Wong, a Hurricanes’ alumnus. They had planned a Saturday of golf and camping. According to a statement from the Vandervlis family, alcohol was not a factor in the incident.

Vandervlis’ billet mom in Lethbridge, Meghan Calder, said in a statement on the GoFundMe page that Ryan once asked if he would be able to live up to the example of Hurricanes leaders lke Wong.

“Ryan is a natural leader. He brings people together. He is social, and funny, and comfortable in any setting. He can decorate Christmas cookies with my grandma, sons, niece and nephew one minute, join a BBQ with our friends the next, attend a 9 yr old birthday party at a moment’s notice, help the rookies on the team with training, meet the team chaplain for lunch, and join the PR staff to take out coffee and donuts to community members. Ryan is always willing to do whatever he can for others,” she said.

According to the page, Vandervlis parents and siblings remain with him in Calgary as he progresses through his recovery.

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