Posted: Mar 15, 2013 4:33 PM by Evan Weborg - MTN News
Updated: Mar 15, 2013 10:34 PM
HELENA - A 19-year-old Helena man, who plays for the Helena Bighorns of the American West Hockey League, was killed in a car crash sometime after midnight Friday.
Officials tell us that Wyatt Winfield was headed west in his pickup on Highway 279 near mile marker 12.9 when the retaining nut from the left front tire came loose, allowing it to fall off. The pickup then veered to the left causing Winfield, who was not wearing a seatbelt, to be thrown from the truck.
(photo courtesy American West Hockey League)
Winfield was taken by ambulance to St. Peter's Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
The was one passenger in the truck with Winfield, an 18-year-old person from East Helena who authorities say was wearing a seatbelt.
The Montana Highway Patrol states that neither speed nor alcohol were factors in the crash.
The Bighorns players held a meeting Friday morning and it was decided that they wished to play Friday night's playoff game against Missoula to honor Wyatt, according to a statement on the AWHL website.
Bighorns team captain Ben Henne offered his deepest sympathies to Wyatt's family on behalf of the team.
"We are dedicating tonight's game and the rest of this season to the memory of Wyatt. He was one of the best team mates I have ever played with," Henne said.
The Bighorns lead the best-of-five series against Missoula, 2 games to none. A win tonight would put the Bighorns in the league finals for a ninth straight season.
Below is a statement from the Bighorns president Mike Butters:
The Helena Bighorns have suffered a great tragedy, with the passing of Bighorns player, Wyatt Winfield, Bighorns' President, Mike Butters announced today.
Winfield was involved in a fatal auto accident last evening. Details of the accident available through media outlets. "Our deepest sympathies go to Wyatt's family and friends," said Butters. "Wyatt has been a huge part of our family here and we are grieving as a team. I have seen his growth as a player and person and his passing effects us all deeply."
Winfield was in his 4th season in Helena. The local Helenian played his entire minor hockey in the Queen city and has been one of only a handful of players to play on the city's only Junior A team, the Bighorns. His passion for the game and commitment to his team was immense.
The Bighorns players held a meeting this morning and it was decided that they wished to play tonight's playoff game vs. Missoula to honor Wyatt. Bighorns team captain Ben Henne offered his deepest sympathies to Wyatt's family on behalf of the team. "We are dedicating tonight's game and the rest of this season to the memory of Wyatt. He was one of the best team mates I have ever played with."
The Bighorns organization are encouraging all who know Wyatt to come to the game tonight to show their support for Wyatt's family and teammates. "The players are very fragile and shaken right now," said Butters. "They need the support of this community right now as they and the rest of the organization are devastated by our loss."