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Teammate talks flashbacks after Adam Johnson’s death as man arrested recovered

A teammate of an ice hockey player who died after being hit in the neck by an opponent’s skate has described how he thinks about the tragic incident every day and suffers flashbacks.

Victor Bjorkung was speaking as a man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter following the death of Adam Johnson was released by South Yorkshire Police, who continue to investigate the events at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena on October 28 last year.

Bjorkung told the BBC it was a “freak accident” and that it was “too quick to judge” what happened from footage of the match.

He said: “I get a lot of flashbacks and they’re not very pleasant flashbacks.

The Nottingham Panthers v Manchester Storm – Adam Johnson Memorial Game – Motorpoint Arena
Adam Johnson’s death has shocked the ice hockey world (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“It feels unreal. It feels like it couldn’t have happened, but obviously it did.”

He said: “I think about it every day,” adding: “It’s something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

Bjorkung was playing alongside Johnson for the Nottingham Panthers in the Sheffield Steelers game and had just passed him when he was hit by the skate.

He said: “People who have been on the ice and people in the stands know that nobody wants to do something like that.

“And it’s such a freak accident. And it’s so fast. You can watch the video. You can zoom in and out.

“You can do all these things. And it’s so easy to sit in the stands and say, ‘Well, he’s done this and he’s done that,’ but if you’re watching him in real time, you know he’s too quick to judge.”

Bjorkung described how he later suffered a groin injury, but said he was “lucky” because he just missed an artery.

He has since also proposed the development of cut-resistant undergarments, saying all players should wear neck guards.

The player said Johnson, who was a 29-year-old American, was “an incredible guy”.

A man was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in November and later released on bail by South Yorkshire Police.

On Thursday, he was released on bail until June 26, the force confirmed in a statement.

It added: “Adam’s loved ones remain at the forefront of our minds as this complex investigation continues.”

Johnson’s death shocked the ice hockey world, especially as the incident was witnessed by thousands of fans at the arena in Sheffield.

In January, Sheffield’s senior coroner, Tanyka Rawden, suspended her inquest while the police investigation ran its course.

It later emerged that Ms Rawden had issued a report on preventing future deaths to Great Britain Ice Hockey and the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) about the use of neck guards in the sport.

In the report, the coroner said she was “sufficiently concerned that deaths may occur in the future if neck protection or protective devices are not worn”, with bodies given 56 days to say what measures were taken – or why no action was taken. .

Neck protection is mandatory in the Elite League (EIHL), in which Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers compete, from January 1.

This followed the International Ice Hockey Federation’s decision in December to mandate the use of neck laceration protections for its competitions.