An updated version of this story can be found here
(WTNH) — When Sam Brande found out his friend died as a result of a neck injury suffered during a hockey game, he knew he had to do something.
Teddy Balkind, a sophomore at St. Luke’s in New Canaan, died from an injury sustained during a hockey game at Brunswick School in Greenwich last week. He fell to the ice and his neck was inadvertently cut by another player’s skate.
Brande started a petition through change.org, asking USA Hockey to require neck guards for youth hockey players. As of Tuesday night, it had more than 57,000 supporters.
Brande, who also plays hockey, has Balkind’s initials and number on his stick. He is hoping to turn something so tragic into something positive.
“I’m not saying a neck guard would have saved his life. It just feels like it could have been an avoidable accident. It was a total freak accident to no one’s fault. It just feels like we didn’t have to experience it if there was already a rule in place,” Brande said.
Connecticut’s private schools are not governed by the CIAC which requires players to wear neck guards.
Two tragic deaths in Quebec during the 1980s brought about change in Canada, where unlike here in the U.S., the guards designed to prevent neck lacerations are mandatory.