‘I Have No Idea How to Tell This Horror Story’

By on November 27, 2017

From New York Times:  John Branch, a sports reporter at The New York Times, has been in sporadic contact via text messaging and email with Walter Peat since writing about him and his son Stephen, a former N.H.L. player.

At the time of the article, in June 2016, Stephen Peat was 36 and experiencing debilitating headaches and violent mood swings. Peat was primarily an enforcer, a player designated to drop his gloves and square off in fist-to-fist combat with an opponent. The Peats presumed that Stephen’s problems were rooted in brain trauma sustained on the ice in so many fights.

Walter Peat, the head saw filer at a lumber mill in a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, gave The Times permission to publish the texts and emails he had sent John over the previous 18 months. Some have been trimmed for concision.

(Stephen disputes his father’s accounts and said, “I am disappointed in my father since I once held him so high on a pedestal.”)

JUNE 7, 2016

Again, we thank you for doing our story, which hasn’t ended yet. I just hope Stephen can get some help, going forward. We had a great day yesterday, as just the 2 of us went boating for the day. Beautiful day, making memories together.

DEC. 30, 2016: John is copied on an email to a doctor with the N.H.L. Players’ Association.

Dr. Rizos,

We are at a critical point in Stephen’s health. I am afraid, Stephen may become another statistic in NHL players who’s life is ended due to brain injuries suffered from playing. We are desperate for help, as we have run out of resources and energy to cope with this. The NHL has offered zero help. I am sorry we haven’t contacted you sooner, but Stephen is stubborn, and proud. It has gone past that, and hope someone will help. He is suffering badly from memory loss, depression, extreme headaches, and at times suicide thoughts. Along with this, tough when he get frustrated and anger comes out. He has got violent a couple times, and at times I am afraid for my life. I love my son very much, and you have no idea how much this hurts to see him like this. Please help.

JUNE 1, 2017

Just an update on Stephen, not sure if the NHL might want to know, but Stephen is in lockup, been arrested 2 times in the last week for parole violation. May spend the next 6 months in jail, he is real bad shape, and like I said before, I don’t have the resources or the knowledge to deal with this. I saw him yesterday, looks horrible, he is homeless. I know one can lead a horse to water theory, but I am afraid this could be very close to his end. At times he has no idea who he is or where he is.

Stephen needs special medical attention badly, as I also believe he has gone back to self medicating, not sure, but you can’t imagine what bad shape he is in. I fear he may not make it out of lock up, but there is nothing I can do, or don’t know what to do. The system is flawed.

He is in lock up now, most likely won’t get released now. Only violation is not seeing his parole officer, but he forgets, a complete mess right now. Probably the safest place for him, but he won’t get fixed in a cement cell.

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