Hockey coach and victim's sister continue forward progress following fatal 2017 crash near Granum
CTV Calgary Staff
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2019 9:48PM MST
Nearly two years after the incident, Parry Shockey and the family of Emma Cherweniuk continue their respective recovery efforts from the head-on crash that left the college student dead and Shockey severely injured.
Now, Shockey and Sianna Cherweniuk, Emma’s sister, are sharing their stories of life after the deadly March 2017 crash on a highway near Granum in an effort to open a discussion on mental health, recovery and overcoming tragedy.
Sianna Cherweniuk still recalls exactly what she was wearing and what she ate on the day of her sister’s death.
“She was my roommate, my teammate, my best friend,” said Sianna of her relationship with Emma. “Everything in my life centered around her for so long. I really didn’t know how to progress from that.”
The sudden and profound loss of Emma triggered a downward spiral for Sianna who had no previous experiences with mental health issues. The psychology major at Lethbridge College began to recognize signs of depression in herself. Her family, teammates, professors and boss were supportive and stood alongside her as she struggled and she made the decision to pursue professional help.
“I’m not afraid to say I reached out. I went to therapy. I went to a doctor just to sort out what was happening.”
The fifth year volleyball player with Lethbridge College says there were days when the smallest of tasks were insurmountable. She considered stepping away from the sport she loves before her passion for volleyball returned when she decided to dedicate her final season with the team to her sister.
“I sometimes wear her old shoes or an old T-shirt she used to practice in and that brings me so much closer to her.”
Sianna hopes her experience encourages others to reach out for help. “Don’t be afraid to get help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak it just means you’re strong enough to overcome what you are facing.”
Parry Shockey was in the other vehicle involved in the deadly 2017 crash. The 65-year-old says his injuries included two broken legs, crushed feet, a broken vertebra, a punctured lung, and a broken rib.
“It was a really bad one,” recalled Shockey. “I’ve managed to heal back. I’m a little limited but my head is still good.”
The well-respected hockey coach has a long history in the southern Alberta hockey community dating back to the 1970s. He led the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a Memorial Cup appearance in 1997, served as an assistant with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns under Mike Babcock during the team’s CIAU championship season in 1994, and had stints coaching the Spokane Chiefs, Regina Pats and Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.
“Hockey has always been a passion for me,” explained Shockey. “Mentally, it’s really good for me. It’s something I’ve always loved to do.”
He jumped at the offer to serve as the interim head coach for the University of Lethbridge women’s hockey team last week after Michelle Janus was relieved of her role.
“Actually getting back on skates is good for getting better physically. The best part is working with women who want to improve their game and hopefully I can help.”
The team currently sits four points out of a playoff spot with four games left in the regular season. Shockey say that while a postseason berth is his goal, he’s happy to be back behind the bench where he belongs.
“At the end of the day, it’s an opportunity for me to coach, which I love to do, and we’ll just see where it takes us.”