Young athlete on the mend

Doctors are confidant 15-year-old Brendan Matheson will survive his four-storey fall, said coach and president of Basketball Yukon Jeff Cressman.

Doctors are confidant 15-year-old Brendan Matheson will survive his four-storey fall, said coach and president of Basketball Yukon Jeff Cressman.

Cressman was one of three coaches who accompanied the boys’ basketball team to a tournament in Edmonton, Alberta, last week.

“We followed all the protocol we have,” he said. “This was an unforeseen event. I don’t think anyone could have predicted this.”

The group checked in to the Radisson Hotel just after 4 p.m. on June 30 and, after a short team meeting in the lobby, the boys went to settle into their four rooms, the coaches and chaperones into the two rooms held for them. The plan was for everyone to meet back in the lobby within 40 minutes to go for dinner, said Cressman.

About 10 minutes later, while coaches were discussing the plans for the weekend in their room, one of the players banged on the door telling them to come outside, quickly.

There had been an accident. One of the players had fallen off the balcony.

The hotel’s balconies are hard to describe.

They wrap around the whole building. Each room has its own balcony, and there are waist-high “pony” walls separating each room – except at every third divider, said Cressman.

At every third divider there’s no room. So, while the front balcony facade and the waist-high dividers exist, there is no balcony floor.

Matheson stepped over the first wall to visit teammates next door, and then carried on to the next group across the next divider – which led to empty space, not a balcony – and fell to the cement parking lot.

“He has been breathing on his own,” said Cressman. “That’s big.”

Matheson has also been moved from a room with constant nurse supervision to a regular ward room with two other patients, he said.

The good news of Matheson’s improving health was delivered to his teammates and their parents at a meeting in Whitehorse last night.

“These are all young kids who have gone through a traumatic experience,” said Cressman of Matheson’s teammates who flew back from Edmonton on Monday.

Basketball Yukon’s main goal now is to provide any support that the families may need at this time, he said.

While he isn’t the greatest shooter, Matheson, who played point guard, was definitely an important player, said Cressman.

“He’s the heart of the team,” he said. “He has everyone laughing all the time. In this situation, it would have been him keeping everyone smiling, keeping things light in a heavy situation.”

The prayer vigil being offered at Whitehorse United Church will continue from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday to Saturday at least until July 15, said Cressman.

“That’s really important to the family,” he said.

Details on the full extent of the young basketball and hockey player’s injuries are not being released at the wishes of his parents, said Cressman.

Both Matheson’s mother and father are still in Edmonton with him. They are not yet willing to speak publicly.

Basketball Yukon will not be taking any legal action against the hotel, said Cressman, adding that the family can still decide if they wish to or not.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at