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'I miss him every day': Family-friends and hockey community speak out following sudden death of young athlete

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Family, friends and the hockey community are mourning the death of a prominent young athlete.

On July 23, 18-year-old Tyson Downs passed away unexpectedly, and the cause of death remains undetermined at this time.

Downs, originally from Owen Sound, played for the Waterloo Siskins – and off the ice, stayed with the Boissonneault family who acted as a billet.

"We don't even know why the doctors don't even know why we just got cheated,” said Eric Boissonneault.

Those close to Downs said during his eighteen years of life he made a lasting impression on everyone he met.

"If I could have just one wish moving forward I'd like to look at Nate when he's 18-19 and have a kid just like Ty,” said Boissonneault, speaking about his own son.

The KW Siskins defenceman died unexpectedly at his family's home in Owen Sound.

"Shortly after lunch I got a call from his dad and I don't remember much. I don't even know if the cottage is locked right now but I remember getting in the car and driving home cuz we had to tell Nate,” said Boissonneault.

Acting almost as a second family, Downs and the Boissonneault's grew close.

"He changed our lives as much as we change his you know he makes us wanna do what we do he made billeting special,” Boissonneault said.

Ethan Finlason, Downs billet brother and teammate said it's been weird and doesn't feel real yet.

As the news of his death circulated online, Finlason says an outpouring of support and messages of condolence have flooded in

"Everyone that kind of knew him or just played against him or saw him knew who he was and everyone loved him,” Finlason said.

KW SISKINS COACH REACTS

KW Siskins coach Rick Chapman says the news was a shock to the team

"It was just disbelief and I just had to take a few minutes and like...no this can't be right,” he said.

But he adds downs will never be forgotten, Chapman said he is even naming his new pup after the passionate athlete.

"He impacted my life which I am never going to forget, always a smile on his face, wasn't a guy of many words, but when he did speak everyone in the room he would have their attention to me that's something you can't forget,” Chapman said.

According to his player profile, last season he played 45 games, netted six goals and 17 assists. During the 2023 Sutherland Cup Playoffs, Downs scored three goals and had 15 assists

TRADITION TO CONTINUE

Downs and his billet family went to lunch at his favourite restaurant in Waterloo every Friday, and they plan to honour the tradition and always leave a spot for him at their table

"Even if that kid was still alive today, our lives were changed forever,” Boissonneault said.

FUNERAL DETAILS 

Downs family is inviting the community to join them for a funeral service being held on Sunday July 30 at 3 p.m at the Bayshore Community Centre – Rutherford Hall with a reception to follow.

In Lieu of flowers the family encourages you to donate to any minor sports association in Owen Sound or a charity of your choice in his honour.

More information can be found here.

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