Hibbing native, former Minn-Duluth hockey player Adam Johnson dies after injury from ‘freak accident’ in English league
Hibbing native and former Minnesota-Duluth hockey player Adam Johnson died Saturday after suffering a severe neck injury during a game in England’s pro league, according to a Tweet shared by the team early Sunday morning.
The Nottingham Panthers announced that 29-year-old Adam Johnson “tragically passed away following a freak accident at the game in Sheffield last night.”
Video from a live stream showed Johnson collide with an opponent mid-ice. The result of the skate blade’s contact with his neck was immediately evident. Johnson stood up, and was assisted by a teammate as he attempted to skate toward his team’s bench. Johnson appeared to pause as the video feed cut away to a different shot.
The Daily Mail reports Johnson collapsed before reaching his bench, prompting teammates and medical staff to rush onto the ice to assist.
The Sun quotes eyewitnesses saying screens were brought out to surround Johnson as he was given CPR, and then rushed to the hospital.
An announcement in the Sheffield arena soon followed saying the game was cancelled and fans were asked to leave the building.
Johnson’s aunt Kari Johnson was among those who confirmed the tragic news on social media late Saturday night.
“I mean, he was just, he thought about other people and he was very deep. And, he cared about people. He really did. He cared about people,” said Kari Johnson. “So young to be taken away. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He has a little niece and nephew who he just adored.”
She and her brother — Adam’s father — were watching the game online when the accident happened.
“We saw it happen. It was horrific. It was, it was, um. I cannot even describe it because nobody should have to live through what we saw,” Kari Johnson said. “The skate cut right through Adam’s windpipe, and it cut his carotid artery. And, at one point, they had lost him in the ambulance and they brought him back. And, um, he didn’t make it through surgery once they got him to the hospital. They just couldn’t get the bleeding to stop. He lost way too much blood.”
“It was tough to see and it was tough knowing it was your boy and you know it’s bad. You know, my nephew, not my son, but my boy. He’s my boy. Just seeing it was traumatic.”
Skating for the Hibbing-Chisholm high school team, Johnson was a finalist for 2013’s Mr. Hockey Award given annually to the state’s top player.
After two seasons playing for Sioux City in the USHL junior league, Johnson spent the next two seasons playing college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth.
Johnson scored an overtime game-winner in a Regional Final against Boston University that sent UMD to the 2017 Frozen Four.
He turned pro in 2017, and appeared in thirteen games with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
His lone NHL goal came in October 2019 in his homestate playing against the Minnesota Wild.
He previously played in leagues in Sweden and Germany.
Click here to donate to a fundraiser for the Johnson family.