Thursday, September 8, 2011

Two ex-Admirals players among 43 killed in Russian crash

A very sad way to wake up and hear this happened. Thoughts go out to all.

Among the dead were former Admirals Karlis Skrastins and Robert Dietrich.

reported by the news: Russian professional hockey team wiped out in downed jet.


Tunoshna, Russia - A private jet carrying a Russian professional hockey team to its first game of the season crashed shortly after takeoff Wednesday, killing 43 people, including two former members of the Milwaukee Admirals, officials said.

Two people survived the accident.

One of the worst aviation disasters in sports history, the crash also was the latest tragedy to befall the sport of hockey, following the sudden, offseason deaths of three of the National Hockey League's tough-guy enforcers that has shocked fans.

The chartered Yak-42 jet was carrying the team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where it was to play Thursday in its opening game of the Kontinental Hockey League season. Of the 45 people on board, 36 were players, coaches and team officials; eight were crew.

The plane apparently struggled to gain altitude and then hit a signal tower before breaking apart along the Volga River near Yaroslavl, about 150 miles northeast of Moscow.

"This is the darkest day in the history of our sport," said Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation. "This is not only a Russian tragedy - the Lokomotiv roster included players and coaches from 10 nations."

"We have no team anymore," said Vladimir N. Malkov, spokesman for Lokomotiv.

One player, identified as Russian Alexander Galimov, and one unidentified crew member were hospitalized in "very grave" condition, said Alexander Degyatryov, chief doctor at Yaroslavl's Solovyov Hospital.

Among the dead were former Admirals Karlis Skrastins and Robert Dietrich.

Skrastins, 37, from Latvia, played for the Admirals from 1998 to 2000. A defenseman, he played in 832 NHL games, mainly for the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche.

Dietrich played in Milwaukee from 2008 to 2010.

Milwaukee Admirals President Jon Greenberg said in a statement that Skrastins and Dietrich "were not only very good up-and-coming hockey players but also wonderful people. . . . The world of hockey is like a family and this summer has been a sad one for all of us."

Lokomotiv coach and NHL veteran Brad McCrimmon, a Canadian, was killed in the crash. McCrimmon, who took over as coach in May, was most recently an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings and played for years in the NHL for Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Calgary, Hartford and Phoenix.

Also killed were assistant coach Alexander Karpovtsev, one of the first Russians to have his name etched on the Stanley Cup as a member of the New York Rangers; Pavol Demitra, who played for the St. Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks and was the Slovakian national team captain; Czech players Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek and Jan Marek; Swedish goalie Stefan Liv; and defenseman Ruslan Salei of Belarus.

Russian NHL star Alex Ovechkin reflected the anguish that resonated through the sport of hockey when he tweeted: "I'm in shock!!!!!R.I.P."

The NHL already has been mourning three unexpected deaths of players in recent months, including a suicide and an accidental drug overdose.

The cause of the crash was not immediately apparent, but Russian news agencies cited local officials as saying it may have been due to technical problems. The plane was built in 1993 and belonged to a small Moscow-based company, Yak Service.

The Kontinental Hockey League has 24 professional teams across Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Slovakia that draws players from the NHL and European leagues.

In past plane crashes involving sports teams, 75 Marshall University football players, coaches, fans and airplane crew died in West Virginia on Nov. 14, 1970, while returning from a game.

Thirty members of a Uruguayan rugby club were killed in a crash in the Andes in 1972.

The entire 18-member U.S. figure skating team died in a crash on its way to the 1961 world championships in Brussels, and 18 members of the Torino soccer team died near Turin, Italy, in a 1949 crash.

Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel contributed to this report from Milwaukee.

1 comment:

Enid Wilson said...

Terribly sad. I like to watch the tv documentary Air Crash Investigation. Sometimes, it's so sad when some of the worst accidents were due to a tiny oversight.

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