The cover of “Crossroads” by Kaleb Dahlgren is shown in this undated handout photo. Dahlgren is one of the survivors of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April 2018. His book was released on March 16. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO — HarperCollins Canada, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

The cover of “Crossroads” by Kaleb Dahlgren is shown in this undated handout photo. Dahlgren is one of the survivors of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April 2018. His book was released on March 16. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO — HarperCollins Canada, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

‘Strength in being vulnerable:’ Broncos bus crash survivor tells his story in book

Kaleb Dahlgren, now 23, was one of 13 players injured on April 6, 2018

Even before he was seriously injured in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash as a 20-year-old, Kaleb Dahlgren had already faced his share of adversity.

He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of four. As a young hockey player, he grieved the deaths of a teammate in a car accident and a strength coach to cancer. And, at 16, he nearly lost his dad to a serious illness.

“It really put things in perspective in my life,” Dahlgren said in a recent interview from his home in Saskatoon.

“We really don’t know how long we have.”

Dahlgren, now 23, was one of 13 players injured on April 6, 2018, when his junior hockey team’s bus and a semi-trailer collided in rural Saskatchewan. Sixteen people — including 10 players — were killed.

He tells his story with the help of a ghost writer in the book “Crossroads,” which was released Tuesday.

The crash nearly three years ago left Dahlgren with a traumatic brain injury, neck and nerve damage, a fractured back and multiple other injuries.

He still can’t remember anything from the crash. He woke up in hospital four days later.

Despite his lack of memory, Dahlgren said he tried to be open and honest in the book about who he is as a person.

“It was super difficult to do it in the first place, but I also find there’s a lot of strength in being vulnerable,” he said. “The writing process was super hard for me.

“One of the harder parts was Chapter 16. That chapter was super, super emotional.”

In that chapter, Dahlgren writes about each of the 16 people who died.

“We were all a team. We were one,” he writes.

He recalled team broadcaster Tyler Bieber’s “voice of the Broncos” and Dayna Brons being there for everyone as the team’s athletic therapist. He wrote about how assistant coach Mark Cross was like a big brother and how team captain Logan Schatz had the biggest personality in the dressing room.

Although Dahlgren said it was difficult to write about his friends on the bus, it was also “cathartic in my healing journey.”

He said it helped him to think about the people he’s had in his life — particularly his parents, coaches and teammates — and how they’ve helped him become the person he is today.

“I was able to reflect on that throughout this process,” he said. “It was also cathartic to finally put some thoughts to paper and, in a way, set the Broncos stuff down and move forward in my life.”

Dahlgren said he will always carry the weight of the crash with him, just as he will always have a brain injury and visible scars.

He’s still not cleared to play contact hockey, but he had been practising and working out with his team at York University in Toronto before COVID-19 hit.

“I’m really lucky to even be able to be in that situation in the first place,” he said. His brain scans showed he had 10 spots where he had suffered a bleed, which made the doctors wonder why his physical injuries weren’t a lot worse.

“I’m coined a miracle.”

He is finishing a commerce degree at York and has applied to a couple of other schools to continue his studies and become a chiropractor.

Dahlgren is also an ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and set up the Dahlgren’s Diabeauties program to mentor diabetic children as a way to help others.

He said he has similar reasons for writing the book.

“I didn’t want to write a book unless it gave back to others.”

He would like it to generate awareness about hope and resilience, and is donating some of the proceeds to STARS, a non-profit that uses helicopters as air ambulances across the Prairies.

“They save lives every day and they saved lives on April 6th, too,” he said.

READ MORE: Three years after Broncos bus crash, Logan Boulet still inspiring organ donation

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

HumboldtHumboldt Broncos

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynaecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Essie Boelema, a 17-year-old lavender farmer, is passionate about the plant. (Screenshot/Special to The Star)
VIDEO: Langley lavender growers say season soon to be in full bloom

Family-owned farm marks five years by preparing for a summer of sales, tours, and growth

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

Work was underway on the interior of the new Tennis Centre location in Langley. Popularity of the sport has risen during the pandemic (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Tennis business expands into Langley

‘Busiest we’ve ever been’ says manager

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

Most Read