Early Monday evening, Grant Gilbertson was involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident as he drove to a scheduled practice with his Peninsula Panthers mates, an incident which took the life of the 18-year-old talented forward.
Grant Gilbertson was a fantastic team player and an 18-year-old hockey player for the Peninsula Panthers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League who was blossoming into one of the upper echelon in Forwards in the League. But that all came to a conclusion when the talented young man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Sooke Rd. near Humpback Rd. with icy road conditions appearing to play a major part in the two-car accident. Bystanders attempted to perform first aid at the scene however Gilbertson succumbed to the injuries.
“I drove to the rink for practice around 5:30 pm and the roads were absolutely fine but when I arrived in the parking lot at the Panorama I could see that it looked really greasy,” said Panthers owner Pete Zubersky.
“Grant’s Mom called me a while later and said that she had heard that there had been an accident in the 4-lane near Humpback Road and she was worried that it might be Grant. I checked the dressing rooms downstairs and nobody had heard from him and so a few of the guys tried to contact him without any luck. When he didn’t show for practice and didn’t get to practice, I was getting really concerned as well. The news arrived with twenty minutes left in the practice, it was devastating to say the least. I cannot explain the grief we felt as a group, it was palpable. I am just so saddened by this situation and I know that Grant’s family and friends have had their hearts ripped out. This is really a true tragedy in every sense of the word and our Organization’s every thought, every second of every day is on Grant and his family.”
Zubersky spoke with Gilbertson’s Grandfather a number of times on Monday evening and again this morning and the team has decided to move on with their scheduled games with the blessing of the family.
“We strongly believe that the players need to be together, to be able to work through their grief with the support of each other. There has been an incredible amount of love and support from the other Organizations in the League. We all battle and compete night in and night out but everyone closed ranks immediately when this happened. The hockey community is a small one and a close one. We lost Steve Simpson in a Motor Vehicle Accident on November 2, 2001 on the morning of a game against the Oceanside Generals. I went to the Simpson’s home and spoke for an hour with Steve’s mother and we agreed that it was best to play, that it is what Steve would have wanted. I feel the same today. Our Captain at the time was Jeff Lawson and ironically he was one of the first on scene last night, arriving just after the RCMP. Jeff called me later in the evening on Monday and we talked about both Grant and Steve. Jeff told me that he thought the right thing to do was play and added that he remembered every single minute from the game 20 years ago against Oceanside. It is the right thing to do. The Panthers were extremely important to Grant and I know in my heart that he would want his teammates to play”.
The Club is scheduled to play in Westshore against the Wolves Wednesday night and will be back at home in the friendly and familiar confines of the Panorama Recreation Centre Friday – a barn where Gilbertson broke into Junior Hockey – when they host the Victoria Cougars. A 25-30 minute ceremony in celebration of Grant’s life will begin promptly at 7:30 pm. More details will be made available in the coming days.