|Brittanie Nichole Cecil|
A few days before her birthday and as an early gift by her dad for her 14th birthday, Brittanie was given tickets to see the Columbus Blue Jackets play the Calgary Flames on March 16, 2002. Brittanie, along with her stepmother, was seated in row S, section 121, when she saw something flying through the air. She had no clue a hockey puck was heading for her until it hit her in the head, right above her nose which then deflected off another fan. The unfortunate flying puck was the result of a shot made by the Blue Jackets' Espen Knutsen which was deflected by the Flames' Derek Morris which went over the glass behind the net.
|Brittanie after the incident|
By dawn, Jody would talk to her daughter, who could only hum a response.
"I knew she was still in there," Jody said.
Brittanie eventually faded into a coma from which she would never emerge.
She died that afternoon of internal bleeding on the brain.
A CT-scan, it seemed, had failed to catch a torn vertebral artery, resulting in severe clotting and swelling of the brain. On March 18, she developed a high fever and lost consciousness. County Coroner, Brad Lewis believed that the swelling became so severe that it compressed the three other main arteries that supply blood to the brain. By the time doctors performed an angiogram that revealed the blocked arteries, they were powerless to reverse the damage. She died nearly 48 hours after being struck, at 5:15 p.m. on March 18, 2002, two days before her 14th birthday.
Did You Know?
- This unfortunate tragedy was the first and currently the only fan fatality in the NHL's 85-year history.
- After Brittanie's funeral, one man called their home asking if he could have a clump of Brittanie's hair so he could clone her.
- Attending the funeral was Blue Jackets general manager Doug MacLean, who spoke on behalf of the team although Espen Knutsen claimed later he regret not attending: "I wish I could have looked Brittanie's family in the eye and told them how sorry I was for their loss. Yeah, maybe there would have been some kind of closure."
- To date, Knutsen is the only Norwegian to have played in the NHL All-Star Game.
- Because of Brittanie's death, the league implemented mandatory netting at either end of the rink in every stadium at the beginning of the next NHL season in 2002–03 to protect spectators from errant pucks.
Brittanie Nichole Cecil Memorial Scholarship Fund
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