LONDON, ONT. - Ian Jenkins, a 15-year-old hockey prospect who has been fighting for his life since sustaining a head injury Thursday, died at University Hospital in Michigan Monday.
Jenkins fell from a pickup truck near his home of Ypsilanti, Mich. He underwent surgery Thursday and was removed from life support on Friday.
Jenkins was one of the best young goaltenders in the American hockey development program and was a second-round draft pick of the London Knights.
Jenkins' father Joel issued a statement early Monday.
"We want to let everyone know that as he always did, Ian battled right up to the final buzzer, but he lost at 7:54 this morning," read the statement. "He will be missed. We thank everyone for everything they have done over the past few days."
No funeral arrangements have been announced, but the family plans to start a fund honouring Jenkins to be used for charitable purposes.
Joel placed a message on Facebook later in the day Monday.
"As most of you know Ian battles hard for everything he does. He never gives up and pushes others to reach higher," the Facebook message reads. "He lives by the motto of H.A.P. (Have a Purpose) and has no patience for negativity. He believed that things were not over until it was over. He also believed life was special and that God gave him gifts to be great.
"Believe it or not it wasn't all about hockey. He was not jaded and believed his gift was his wonderful soul. Ian cared about people that have beautiful souls and that all people need help in some special way. He has blessed many people and taught them that life is grand."
Joel went on to talk about the last time he spoke with his son. "He gave me a gift on the date of his accident, his sister's birthday, and that gift was his usual words when we got off the phone that ill-fated afternoon. After our brief conversation about what time I was picking him up he said 'I love you dad!'
"Those were his last words to me. Thank you Ian for that treasured gift. I would ask all of you to treat each other the way Ian treated people and that was with extreme kindness and not to judge harshly. If we ALL could lead our busy lives the way Ian did the world's problems would disappear over-night."
Bill Dark, Knights goaltending coach who worked with Jenkins said it was a 'sad, sad, day for everyone. I was talking to (Joel) Sunday night and Joel said in an ironic twist of fate, the accident happened on the 19th day, the fifth month and the 11th year when added up to Ian's number 35," he said.
Ian's older brother Lester also posted a note on Facebook. "ohhh ian cant believe im actually writing this. i love you soo much-i realized over these past few days how many people you actually touched. you were the best person i knew. you always had a smile on your face and were never down! . . . know now that you are over us, watching us from above. playing hockey for Gods team now and doing well (like always). . . your my guardian angel now. i love you bud stay strong and R.I. P your big bro, lester.
Mike Hamilton, friend of the family and Ian's former coach said on the University of Michigan Health System website that a game was being planned to celebrate Jenkins' life. "The family is trying to decide how to help friends, teammates and family deal with these tough times. They keep coming back to the best way they know and how Ian would have dealt with this and that is to TAKE IT TO THE ICE! What better way for all of us to remember, celebrate and start to heal. Everyone will get a jersey to keep, with the famous #35 on the back, Big "E" and Have A Purpose around the London Knights Logo on the front . . . After we play, there will be food, drinks, stories and lots of laughing. Crying will not be allowed in the ice rink, we are HOCKEY PLAYERS!!!!!