Utah hockey community showering Wight family with endless support
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The day Nov. 10 began like any other day for Bob and Dawn Wright and their two sons, Kyle and Karsen.
The Sandy family was on the road, heading to a youth hockey tournament in Durango, Colo., when tragedy struck.
A semi-truck, driven by Charles Gibson, reportedly crossed the center line on the highway and hit the Wights near Laramie, Wyo. Bob, 57, and Dawn, 46, were killed. According to friends of the family, 16-year-old Kyle suffered a broken arm and broken leg and 13-year-old Karsen was treated for internal injuries.
The Wyoming Highway Patrol believes driver fatigue on the part of the semitrailer driver was a contributing factor. Gibson, 58, of Midwest City, Okla., was not injured, but was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide.
Karsen plays this season for the West Coast Renegades’ 14U team after skating for the Outliers Hockey Academy last season. Kyle plays for Brighton High School. Karsen attends Eastmont Middle School.
A GoFundMe page was quickly established to take care of Kyle and Karsen and as of late December, the goal of raising $100,000 was reached.
“The Wight family has made a huge impact on the Utah hockey community as the boys have played on several teams in the Salt Lake and Boise areas for many years,” read the GoFundMe page’s description. “Bob and Dawn were a staple in the stands and around the rink. They were friends to all the other parents and players, always ready to shake your hand with a smile and share a crazy laugh. There will be a space in the stands and our hearts that can never be filled.”
Short term custody has been granted by the Third Judicial District Court of Utah to Brenda and Derrick Pond. Another hearing, which may result in a longer grant of custody, is set for this month. In the interim, the Ponds have expenses relating to transportation getting the boys home, final expenses for Bob and Dawn, day-to-day expenses of the boys, and other ancillary costs.
To facilitate these needs in the short term, the creator of the GoFundMe campaign has asked Brenda Pond for an assessment of immediate necessary expenses. Once received, the creator will withdraw necessary funds and forward them directly to her for the benefit of the boys. The balance of the funds will remain in the GoFundMe account until permanent custody is finalized, a trust is established, or additional requests are made by the Ponds pursuant to a custody order.
On Nov. 23, Kyle and Karsen attended the Utah Grizzlies-Allen Americans ECHL game at the Maverik Center and met the Grizzlies players (pictured), watched warmups from the Grizzlies bench and took part in a ceremonial faceoff.
Grizzlies vice president Jared Youngman said that night was more than just his franchise helping out.
“As a hockey community, we always come together in times like this,” said Youngman. “We want to help them cope with life as how they now know it. It’s our human nature. When something like this happens, it really hits home. This was a crazy accident and it could have been anyone out there. We just want to show that we genuinely care about these kids and we are always here to help.
“With all the negative happening in the world, the outpouring of support from not only the Utah hockey community, but from all of the surrounding states as well, just shows that there is still a lot of good in the world, and that’s what we need to focus on.”
At a Colorado Jr. Eagles game on Nov. 19, fans raised $502 for the Wight family, which the team matched. Five days prior, Los Angeles Kings forward and Salt Lake City native Trevor Lewis visited Kyle and Karsen at a Denver hospital.
On Dec. 16, “A Night of Love for the Wights” fundraising dinner was held at the Snowbird Resort Banquet Room at Cliffs Lodge.
— Matt Mackinder