A man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after the death of ice hockey player Adam Johnson has been released on bail pending further inquiries.
Johnson died on October 28 after being hit in the neck by an opposition player’s skate during a match at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena.
The 29-year-old American, who was playing for Nottingham Panthers against Sheffield Steelers, died in hospital.
The man was arrested on Tuesday and South Yorkshire Police confirmed on Wednesday that he has been bailed to a date in the new year as inquiries continue.
Detective Chief Superintendent Becs Horsfall said on Tuesday: “Our investigation launched immediately following this tragedy and we have been carrying out extensive inquiries ever since to piece together the events which led to the loss of Adam in these unprecedented circumstances.
“We have been speaking to highly specialised experts in their field to assist in our inquiries and continue to work closely with the health and safety department at Sheffield City Council, which is supporting our ongoing investigation.
“Adam’s death has sent shockwaves through many communities, from our local residents here in Sheffield to ice hockey fans across the world.
“We know these communities will expect us to handle this investigation with the same professionalism, fairness and sensitivity as any other, and request that members of the public refrain from comment and speculation which could hinder this process.
“Our thoughts remain with all affected by this devastating incident as inquiries continue.”
An inquest into Johnson’s death was opened and adjourned on November 3, but Sheffield’s senior coroner, Tanyka Rawden, has already called on the sport’s governing bodies to take action.
In a Prevention of Future Deaths Report to Ice Hockey UK and the English Ice Hockey Association, Rawden said she is “sufficiently concerned that deaths may occur in the future if neck guards or protectors are not worn”, with the bodies given 56 days to say what action has been taken – or why action has not been taken.
The EIHA said neck guards will become mandatory from 2024 but the Elite League, in which the Panthers and Steelers compete, is not under its control.
The Elite Ice Hockey League said it will not make the use of neck guards mandatory but will “strongly encourage” players and officials to wear them.
According to the Sentencing Council, manslaughter is an extremely varied criminal offence which can attract penalties from suspended sentences up to life in prison.
The council says manslaughter can involve an offence that is not far from being an accident through to one which may be just short of murder and is categorised as either involuntary and voluntary.
Involuntary manslaughter is unlawful killing without the intent to kill or cause really serious harm and is further subdivided into unlawful act manslaughter and manslaughter by gross negligence.
Unlawful act manslaughter is the most common type of manslaughter prosecution in England and Wales and often involves deaths as a result of assaults.
Manslaughter by gross negligence occurs when the offender is in breach of a duty of care towards the victim, such as when employers completely disregard the safety of employees.
Voluntary manslaughter occurs when all the elements for murder are present, including an intention to kill or cause really serious harm, but the crime is reduced to manslaughter by reason of loss of control or diminished responsibility due to a recognised mental condition.