NHL

Adam Johnson death: UK police make manslaughter arrest after former Penguins player killed in hockey accident

Police in the United Kingdom have arrested a man on suspicion on manslaughter following the death of former Penguins player Adam Johnson. 

South Yorkshire Police made the announcement on Tuesday. The man is currently in police custody. 

Johnson, 29, died as a result of an on-ice collision where he had his neck sliced by a skate. The accident occurred during an Oct. 28 game between Johnson’s Nottingham Panthers and the Sheffield Steelers. 

MORE: Adam Johnson hockey death, explained

Adam Johnson death arrest

South Yorkshire Police announced on Tuesday that they have arrested a man on suspicion of manslaughter following the on-ice death of Johnson. He remains in police custody. 

The South Yorkshire Police did not release the identity of the arrested man, however, it is very likely that it is Matt Petgrave, the other player involved in the tragic incident. 

Detectives have had an open investigation since the accident occurred nearly three weeks ago. South Yorkshire’s detective chief superintendent Becs Horsfall gave the following update stemming from the arrest:

“Our investigation launched immediately following this tragedy and we have been carrying out extensive enquiries ever since to piece together the events which led to the loss of Adam in these unprecedented circumstances.

“We have been speaking to highly specialised experts in their field to assist in our enquiries and continue to work closely with the health and safety department at Sheffield City Council, which is supporting our ongoing investigation.

“Adam’s death has sent shockwaves through many communities, from our local residents here in Sheffield to ice hockey fans across the world. We know these communities will expect us to handle this investigation with the same professionalism, fairness and sensitivity as any other and request that members of the public refrain from comment and speculation which could hinder this process. Our thoughts remain with all affected by this devastating incident as enquiries continue.”

What happened to Adam Johnson?

Johnson died as a result of a neck laceration from a skate during an Oct. 28 game in the EIHL’s Challenge Cup. 

In the second period of the Panthers’ contest against the Sheffield Steelers, a collision between Johnson and Petgrave resulted in Johnson’s neck being sliced by a skate. Officials stopped the Panthers-Steelers game, and he received emergency treatment on the ice.

Players eventually left for the locker room and the almost 8,000 fans at Utilita Arena, home to the Steelers, were asked to leave the building due to a “major medical emergency.” Johnson was taken to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. 

South Yorkshire Police said the following in a statement:

“We were called at 8:25 p.m. (October 28) to reports that a player had been seriously injured during a Sheffield Steelers versus Nottingham Panthers game at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield. Officers attended the scene alongside other emergency services and one man, aged in his 20s, was taken to hospital with serious injuries. Sadly, he was later pronounced deceased at hospital.

“Our officers remain at the scene carrying out enquiries today (October 29) and our investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident remain ongoing.”

Who is Matt Petgrave?

Petgrave is the other player involved in the fatal collision with Johnson. While the UK police did not specifically name him, it is very likely that Petgrave was the one arrested. 

Petgrave, 31, is a native of Toronto, Ont. He played in the OHL from 2009 to 2013, splitting time between the Owen Sound Attack and the Oshawa Generals. After his junior career, Petgrave played for four seasons at the University of New Brunswick from 2013 to 2017. 

After graduating from university, the defenseman signed with the Brampton Beast of the ECHL. He bounced between the ECHL and the AHL from 2017 to 201 before heading overseas. His first stop in Europe was in Slovakia with Spisska Nova Ves, a club in the Czech Extraliga. 

Ahead of the 2022-23 season, Petgrave signed with the Sheffield Steelers of the EIHL. He played in 54 games for the Steelers last year, recording 48 points. So far this year, he had three points in seven games. 

Petgrave returned to the ice on Monday for the first time since the incident with Johnson. He received a standing ovation from the Sheffield crowd.  

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