33 year old Ronny Keller was a defenceman for EHC Olten ice hockey team from Switzerland. On March 5, 2013, during a Nationalliga B play offs game against SC Langenthal, Ronny Keller was brutally checked from behind into the boards by Stefan Schnyder and suffered significant damage to his fourth thoracic vertebra. According to the chief physician from the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in Nottwill where the hockey player is being treated, Ronny Keller will be permanently paralyzed. The doctor also clarified that Keller did not suffer brain injury so his mental health will not be affected, he will however be a paraplegic for the rest of his life.
The Swiss hockey league opened a disciplinary investigation on the incident and some say criminal charges may be filed against Stefan Schnyder. His team – SC Lagenthal announced that he will not play another game this season.
Ice hockey is a full contact sport and as with any sport, there is anticipated rivalry between the teams. I don’t however think, despite harsh hits hockey is known for, that any player would get so taken by the game that they would intentionally try to cause harm to another player. I’m sure Stefan Schnyder is devastated by what he had done to Ronny Keller. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the last time he’d ever played hockey.
Also, I’m not an ice hockey rules expert to reliably determine whether the check was an illegal hit, but from what seems obvious from the video, both players were after the puck, but Ronny Keller was the one who initiated contact. But for Stefan Schnyder to push the guy into the boards from behind, that’s all kinds of nasty. You are on the skates, you got speed and if you also get pushed, you’re gonna faceplant the boards whether you like it or not. Faceplants are little brothers of permanent paralyses. They can easily become one.
Miracles do happen, though and there are people who walked after what was considered permanent paralysis. I wish Ronny Keller strength in dealing with the aftermath of the accident and maybe, a miracle will happen and he’ll walk again.