‘It was just kind of heartbreaking’: Woman whose wheelchair was hurled down stairs by NHL star’s son breaks her silence on TV – but still refuses to accept GoFundMe donations
- Sydney Benes, 22, was using the restroom at Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Erie on Saturday when Carson Brière pushed her wheelchair down the stairs
- She said he and his friends were ‘laughing about it’ and said it was ‘hurtful and disrespectful and just kind of heartbreaking’ to see
- ‘People were saying: “Oh, he’s acting like a child.” No child would throw a wheelchair down a staircase…because they have a heart and morals,’ she said
The disabled woman whose wheelchair was thrown down the stairs at a NHL star’s son has broken her silence and said the whole ordeal was ‘heartbreaking.’
Sydney Benes, 22, who lost her legs in a 2021 car accident, was using the restroom downstairs at Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Saturday when she discovered her wheelchair at the bottom of the stairs damaged.
She had gone downstairs to the bathroom with the help of a security guard and left her chair at the top.
‘All that kept going through my mind was: “God I hope this was an accident, I really hope somebody just accidentally bumped it down the stairs somehow,”‘ she told Inside Edition, in an episode that airs tonight.
She would later learn that Mercyhurst University student Carson Brière, son of NHL star Daniel Brière, had been the person responsible.
‘They were laughing about it. It was really hurtful and disrespectful and just kind of heartbreaking,’ she told Inside Edition.
Sydney Benes, 22, who lost her legs in a 2021 car accident, was using the restroom downstairs at Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Saturday when she discovered her wheelchair at the bottom of the stairs damaged. ‘All that kept going through my mind was: “God I hope this was an accident, I really hope somebody just accidentally bumped it down the stairs somehow,”‘ she said
Sydney (pictured), the disabled woman who had her wheelchair destroyed after the son of a former NHL player pushed it down the stairs
‘Carson was told to come apologize to me and the apology was quite insincere,’ she said.
‘People were saying: “Oh, he’s acting like a child.” No child would throw a wheelchair down a staircase, in my opinion, because they have a heart and morals.’
Benes legs were amputated two years ago after she was involved in a car accident and now her vital wheelchair has sustained significant damage.
‘The brake is bent, so it makes it quite a bit harder to lock,’ she told Inside Edition. ‘The armrest is broken, and we do believe the frame is bent.’
A GoFundMe was set up for her, which raised more than $8,000 before being closed. Benes told Inside Edition that she would use the money to replace or repair her chair. Any remaining amount she would donate to other handicap people.
‘I’d rather take this and turn it into a learning experience for everybody,’ she told the outlet. ‘I’d rather make people more aware of the stuff disabled people have to go through. We just want a little bit of help, a little bit of understanding.’
This comes after she originally said she would declined the $8,000 of cash.
‘I swear I really don’t wanna keep a cent of the donated money, I’d much rather give it to those who need it,’ she wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.
In another tweet, she adds that the security staff at Sullivan’s ‘had Carson come apologize but it was very insincere,’ claiming that after he apologized he immediately asked ‘Do I still have to go?’ after being asked to leave the bar.
She would later that Mercyhurst University student Carson Brière, son of NHL star Daniel Brière, had been the one to push her wheelchair down the stairs. ‘They were laughing about it. It was really hurtful and disrespectful and just kind of heartbreaking,’ she said
The response came after Brière, a junior for Mercyhurst University’s hockey team in Pennsylvania, admitted to having a ‘serious lack of judgement’ in a statement to DailyMail.com after he was caught on camera shoving the chair down a flight of stairs at Sullivan’s last weekend.
His father is Daniel Brière, 45, a former NHL player who scored over 300 goals in his lengthy career. Brière, who was named interim general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers five days ago, called his son’s actions ‘inexcusable.’
Police in Erie confirmed to DailyMail.com that the investigation is still ongoing as of Thursday.
Mercyhurst confirmed the three athletes suspension from sports activities late Wednesday.
‘After conducting an initial investigation into the incidents depicted on social media, the Mercyhurst athletics department has determined that three individuals in that video are student-athletes,’ they said in a statement.
‘We have placed all three on interim suspension from their athletic teams per school policy, pending the outcome of the investigative process.’
The shocking video shows Brière in a white baseball cap spotting the wheelchair at the top of the stairs before he scoots forward in it, stands up and shoves it down the steps.
Staff forced Brière to apologize, but Benes said it was insincere. ‘People were saying: “Oh, he’s acting like a child.” No child would throw a wheelchair down a staircase, in my opinion, because they have a heart and morals,’ she said
Brière, a junior for Mercyhurst University’s hockey team in Pennsylvania, admitted to having a ‘serious lack of judgement’ in a statement to DailyMail.com
Julia Zutkowski posted the shocking video Tuesday, writing: ‘I usually don’t post anything serious on my twitter but something happened Saturday night and just can’t stomach the thought of this kid getting away with it. In the video below is a @MercyhurstU student and is currently on the @HurstMensHockey team. Carson Briere.’
She added: ‘The chair was left on top of the stairs because she physically had to be carried down to use the restrooms. Which are only located downstairs.’
In a statement to DailyMail.com via the Flyers, Carson Brière said: ‘I am deeply sorry for my behavior on Saturday. There is no excuse for my actions, and I will do whatever I can to make up for this serious lack of judgment.’
Father Daniel offered similarly apologetic words in a statement of his own.
‘I was shocked to see Carson’s actions in the video that was shared on social media yesterday,’ he said in a statement. ‘They are inexcusable and run completely counter to our family’s values of treating people with respect. Carson is very sorry and accepts full responsibility for his behavior.’
Hours after their apologies, the university put out a statement, both praying for Sydney and reminding people to try and allow those who have made mistakes to correct them.
‘Mercyhurst University has heard a considerable outcry regarding the social media video of student Carson Brière showing him pushing an unoccupied wheelchair down a flight of stairs.’
‘Mr. Brière today issued a statement taking responsibility for his actions, and in doing so, he recognized his behavior reflects a ‘serious lack of judgment’ and that he is ‘deeply sorry.’
‘The actions displayed in the video make our hearts heavy and fall short of our Mercy belief in the inherent dignity of each person. We pray for and are in solidarity with the victim and all persons with disabilities who rightfully find actions like this to be deeply offensive.’
‘Our Mercy tradition also reminds us that students and all people who make poor choices deserve opportunities to learn, change behaviors, and atone for harmful actions.’
This is not the first time Brière has faced disciplinary issues on campus.
In 2019, Brière and another player were ‘dismissed’ from the program at Arizona State University ‘due to a violation of team rules,’ according to the Walter Cronkite Sports Network.
Brière – who has received invites in the past to the Flyers youth development camp – had never played for the fledgling program, having gone through the NCAA’s process of ‘redshirting,’ where college athletes often don’t play for a full season to extend their eligibility.
Carson’s father is Daniel Briere, 45, a former NHL player, seen here in a game against the New York Rangers in 2011
He spent the rest of that school year playing junior hockey in Canada before transferring to Mercyhurst.
Brière moved from a huge, public state school in Arizona to Mercyhurst, a small program at the 2,700-enrollment private Catholic college in Erie, Pennsylvania.
A 2021 interview in College Hockey News that headlined him receiving a ‘second chance’ went into what Brière felt the reasons were for his dismissal.
‘I was just going out; I wasn’t taking hockey seriously. It wasn’t anything bad, it was just not being committed to hockey, I was more committed to having fun at school,’ he said. ‘Too much partying, that’s probably the best way to put it.’
He claimed to have been taught a lesson from his experience at Arizona State that he had put to use at his new school.
‘It made me realize once you get to this level, it’s a job, right? It’s not just something you can do for fun,’ he said. ‘Obviously, you have to have fun while you’re doing it, I think that’s what keeps people going, but also knowing when to and when not to do things.’
‘It’s just maturing in general. I honestly think it was a great lesson for me, helped me become a more all-around hockey player and look at life and everything in a different perspective.’
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