LONDON, ONT. - Ian Jenkins, considered the best young goaltender in the United States hockey development program and a second-round pick by the London Knights in the recent Ontario Hockey League draft, is in critical condition in a Michigan hospital after an accident involving a pick-up truck Thursday afternoon.
Jenkins, who won't be 16 until Aug. 13, underwent surgery after the accident and is in University Hospital at the University of Michigan.
Details remain sketchy about the incident but Jenkins sustained a head injury and a spokesperson for the hospital said he was in critical condition.
"The incident is still under investigation," said Milan Chief of Police Jeffrey Lewis the police department that responded to the call. "We have a 16-year-old driver of the truck and the victim who was either a passenger in the truck or running behind the truck. He fell and struck his head."
Jenkins is from Ypsilanti, Mich., and Milan is 12 miles from Ypsilanti. Jenkins goes to high school in Milan.
Jenkins is considered one of the top goaltending prospects in the draft. He went in the second round after indicating he would only play for either the Knights or Windsor Spitfires.
"He is the future of the London Knights goaltending position," Knights' goaltending coach Bill Dark said.
But hockey was the furthest thing from anyone's mind Friday.
"Your stomach just drops," Knights' general manager Mark Hunter said. "As a parent, you just can't believe this can ever happen. You can talk about competitive hockey and everything but this kind of thing just puts life in perspective."
Hunter said he found out about the accident Thursday night. He had gone out for an hour to play ball hockey.
"When I got to my telephone there was 10 messages on it and I don't ever get that many messages in an hour," he said. "I looked at all the messages and I got this sick feeling that something was wrong."
Dark knows Jenkins and the Jenkins family especially father Joel.
"A number of times he came to my goalie camps in Windsor," Dark said. "His dad would bring him and we would talk.
"From a hockey standpoint, he is a very intelligent, motivated kid. He was a great kid that every team in the OHL would have liked him."
Dark says everyone is "praying for a miracle."
"I felt like I was going to be sick when I heard," Dark said. "Not from a hockey perspective but from a parents perspective. It's the worse nightmare a parent can imagine. It is beyond belief."
Jenkins was scheduled to be in London this weekend for the Knights mini-camp. Jenkins was going to play for the Knights this year as backup to returning netminder Michael Houser.
When he was drafted, Jenkins indicated he would be happy playing 10-to-15 games in his first year.
"I know I can learn a lot from Michael Houser and I'm just very, very excited to be a London Knight," he said. "I can hardly wait to get up there and get started."
Meanwhile, Lewis said they are talking to eyewitnesses but as yet they have no information about what Jenkins and the driver were doing.
Lewis said the vehicle did not strike Jenkins.
"His injuries were caused when his head struck the pavement," Lewis said.
Lewis went on to say the accident happened in a "quiet" subdivision.
"As of yet there is no evidence of speeding, reckless behaviour, drugs or alcohol" Lewis said. "We are continuing to monitor the situation and the victim's condition."
The accident happened late Thursday afternoon.
"This is an active investigation and we are looking for more information," Lewis said.