CW: Property Damage & Ableism:
Carson Brière, a Mercyhurst University men’s hockey player and the son of Daniel Brière, interim general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers and a 17-year NHL veteran, has apologized for pushing an empty wheelchair down a flight of stairs.
A video of the incident was released online Tuesday afternoon. The Twitter user said that they knew the wheelchair’s owner. Brière, according to the user, is the man pushing the wheelchair.
Brière also damaged the wheelchair. It can take months to get mobility equipment repaired. Wheelchairs aren’t cheap, especially one that is custom-made. Insurance doesn’t always cover durable medical equipment, meaning people have to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on equipment such as a wheelchair.
As a wheelchair user, I was saddened by Brière’s actions. Wheelchairs allow their users freedom and independence. Without them, some people would be stuck in bed. I was 13 when I received my first power wheelchair. At the time, I thought using a wheelchair meant I was a failure. I had no idea how much freedom a wheelchair would give me.
Wheelchairs are often custom-made to fit their users. An ill-fitting wheelchair can have devastating consequences. In 2021, Engracia Figueroa died after developing a pressure sore, which subsequently became infected. She developed the sore after using a wheelchair that was loaned to her after her wheelchair was damaged by United Airlines.
Obtaining durable medical equipment is often a lengthy process. When I received a new power wheelchair in 2021, the process took eighteen months. I had to file two appeals with my insurance company, and they later denied the seat elevator as well.
According to the office of Student Conduct and the Department of Police and Safety, the investigation is ongoing. Mercyhurst’s representative would not go further than their original statement on Wednesday except to note that the probe could take weeks. Later that same day, Mercyhurst University announced that Carson Briere and two other athletes involved in the incident had been given an interim suspension.
For disabled people, wheelchairs and other mobility equipment are often a lifeline. I wish non-disabled people recognized the importance of medical equipment. It is more than medical equipment. The right equipment allows disabled people to live their lives and participate in society.
Brooks, Laken. “Disability Advocate Engracia Figueroa Died after an Airline Damaged Her Wheelchair.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 9 Nov. 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/lakenbrooks/2021/11/08/disability-advocate-engracia-figueroa-died-after-an-airline-damaged-her-wheelchair/?sh=722eb0f310d7.
Conde, Ximena. “Danny Brière’s Son Suspended from College Hockey Team for Wheelchair Incident.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, Lenfest Institute, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.inquirer.com/news/carson-briere-daniel-briere-wheelchair-mercyhurst-university-flyers-20230315.html.
Whyno, Stephen. “Carson Briere Suspended for Pushing Wheelchair down Stairs.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 16 Mar. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/carson-briere-pushes-wheelchair-down-stairs-78402e9bcb9f3b7d62a20e2d1cabd080.