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Mom Hit by Hockey Puck Released

April 2, 2002

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) _ A mother hit by a puck while watching her teen-age son try out for a hockey team was released from the University of Alberta hospital on the weekend.

Lorette Bezpalko of Elk Point, Alta., was discharged on Easter Sunday, said Lori Cowell, spokesperson for the hospital.

Bezpalko was injured when a puck flew into the stands at Vermilion arena while she and her daughter were watching the tryout. The puck struck Bezpalko in the neck, causing her to have trouble breathing and lose consciousness.

She was initially taken to a hospital in Vermilion, then transferred by air ambulance to the University of Alberta Hospital where she spent one week.

Bezpalko was hit a week after 13-year-old Brittanie Cecil was struck in the forehead by a deflected shot during a NHL game at Columbus. She died two days later from an injury to an artery that occurred when her head snapped back.

Cecil’s death, believed to be the first spectator death caused by a puck at an NHL game, sparked discussions across North America about rink safety and whether nets should be installed at arenas.

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