Hockey star Adam Johnson’s aunt has called for “justice” and a “full investigation” into his death.
The 29-year-old American was playing for the Nottingham Panthers at rival Sheffield Steelers on Saturday when he was reportedly hit by an opponent’s skate, resulting in a fatal injury as his throat was slashed.
About 8,000 fans watched in horror as attempts were made to save Johnson’s life as he lay bleeding on the ice at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield, shielded by fellow players, before later succumbing to his injuries in hospital.
Earlier on Thursday, coroner’s officers confirmed the inquest into Johnson’s death would open at the Medico-Legal Center in Sheffield at 9am on Friday, while South Yorkshire Police issued a statement saying their investigation could take some time.
Johnson’s aunt Kari called for a detailed investigation into the circumstances of his death at her home in Minnesota – where Johnson grew up – and questioned opposing player Matt Petgrave.
The aunt of hockey star Adam Johnson, who tragically died in a horrific accident over the weekend, has called for “justice” and a “full investigation” into his death
Adam Johnson, seen seconds before the unusual incident at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield on Saturday
“It was very reckless,” she said YorkshireLive. “I just want them to do it right.” We’re looking for justice for Adam.
‘[The manoeuvre was] completely unnecessary. We absolutely demand a comprehensive investigation. You don’t take your leg, kick someone and slit their throat. I’m sorry.
“We watched the game in real time and witnessed what happened.” Horrible is the right word to describe it.
“My nephew was 6 feet tall, and regardless of whether you lost your balance or not, for your leg to come up and make a kicking motion like he did is just unacceptable.”
“I think the measures were unnecessary.” It was simply unnecessary. Nobody touched him. I’ve watched the video hundreds of times. This isn’t a hockey game, this isn’t a check. I understand that every team has an enforcer on their team per se.”
She continued: “I’m sure Mr Petgrave probably didn’t even think about what the consequences of this could be, but at some point you have to realize that this isn’t hockey.”
“And I’m sure he’s going through a lot too, but he took our boy with him. “Some of us in the family think it’s a completely unnecessary, very, very bad measure.”
Kari further explained the impact the tragedy has had on her family, stressing they are committed to conducting as thorough an investigation as possible.
She added: “I have to say his mother was probably the strongest of us.” But deep down I don’t know if she’s in shock or crying when she’s alone. She was just very strong.
“As for his father, my brother, he was just a mess. Together with Adam’s grandma and Adam’s brother and me.
“I just want them to do it right.” It won’t bring my nephew back. We just want to make sure they do it right. If they find something that contradicts my feelings, I have to accept it.
“But I felt the whole time that it was very, very reckless and unnecessary. “It cost a life. I don’t want to see it for anyone else.
Several tributes have been paid to Johnson since his death and Kari insisted it was proof of what a well-loved and brilliant person he was as she said: “He was just a wonderful young man. He loved everyone, he was kind to everyone. He was generous. He was a great boy.
“He loved everything he did. He wanted to be the best at everything he took on, but he didn’t want any part of the fan fair. He was humble. He just wanted to be good at it – whatever it was – and move on to the next thing.
A message board paying tribute to Johnson outside the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham
Several tributes were paid to the player, and flowers and memorials were also laid
“We knew what a great boy Adam was, but since his death we now learn how many lives he touched.”
As well as tributes, a sea of flowers were laid in Johnson’s memory at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield and the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.
On Wednesday, the Panthers invited fans from all clubs to Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena to celebrate the former NHL player on November 4th.
The Panthers also announced the launch of an official fundraising page to raise money for the Love for Hibbing and Hockey Memorial Fund, established in Johnson’s memory.