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Hockey player Terry Ryan apologizes for ‘childish’ comment after car towed in downtown St. John's

Terry Ryan points to the camera for emphasis while explaining in a Twitter video he was wrong to make a comment about drinking and driving while sounding off on social media about the downtown parking ban.
Terry Ryan explained in a Twitter video he was wrong to make a comment about drinking and driving while sounding off on social media about the downtown parking ban. - Twitter photo

Blasts St. John’s parking ban

The death of a beloved cousin killed by a drunk driver has always haunted well-known hockey player Terry Ryan and he was quick to take to Twitter Tuesday with an apology video for a drinking-and-driving comment made in anger over the downtown St. John’s parking ban.

Ryan left his car Saturday night after having four or five beer and came back Sunday to find it gone. It cost him $275 at the city impound to get it back.

In the heat of the moment, the former first-round NHL pick made a comment on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram that he regrets.

Twitter video:

But Ryan owned up to the mistake and posted a video Tuesday to atone and underscore his derision at the notion of anyone drinking and driving.

“I apologize for the unprofessional tweet I left the other day and posted on Instagram and posted on Snapchat,” Ryan said in the video.

“I was pissed off, but very irresponsible to lose my mind, especially with six or seven thousand followers that you influence a little bit at times. That was bullshit.

“Now on here the first thing I said was, ‘Well, you know the next time I will just drink and drive,” which is bullshit that I said that. I lost a cousin, Michelle Meger, to drinking and driving and I never have and I never will,” he said, pointing his finger at the video camera for emphasis.

“So that was just me snapping in a very immature way.”

The contentious downtown parking ban — derided in many people’s complaints on social media — affects the business sections of Water and Duckworth streets and for the first time came into effect this year. Between the hours of 3:30 and 6:30 a.m., cars will be towed if left on the portions of those two streets affected. The city has said the ban will stay in effect this winter and could be in place again next year.

Of the fee, the city retains $25 and the rest goes to the towing company.

Ryan, who lives in Mount Pearl, explained he had been out of town for about a month — including location filming as he works with the TV series “Frontier” — and wasn’t aware of the ban.

Ryan sticks by his concerns about the ban, especially since there was no snow on the ground Saturday.

On Sunday it rained and hit a high of almost 8 C.

Ryan told The Telegram $275 is way too steep and might very well prompt some people to take a drastic measure such as drinking and driving.

He emphasized he would never do that, and his comments about that were out of line.

Ryan said that when he was 10, his second cousin — whom he was close to through her and her family’s visits home to Newfoundland and Labrador over the years — was killed in Edmonton by a drunk driver who ran a red light and T-boned the car she was riding in.

The woman was in her early 20s when she lost her life in the late 1980s.

The families were so close, he stayed with her parents in Edmonton when he was drafted to the NHL, and the memories of her death remain haunting ones for Ryan.

“She was a great person. I don’t want to disrespect her,” he said.

In his video, Ryan acknowledges high reported rates of impaired driving in Newfoundland and Labrador, and sends a message that there is no valid reason for drinking and driving.

Ryan told The Telegram he had gone downtown Saturday afternoon not expecting to stay.

“I had four or five beers, then said, ‘You know what, I am just going to leave my car there and pick it up tomorrow,’” he recalled.

On Sunday, when his car wasn’t where he left it, he phoned the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and was about to file a stolen car report, when friends suggested it was likely towed.

Sure enough, it was at the city impound.

His initial reaction on social media was centred on his point that the parking ban hasn’t been thought out enough.

But he coloured that message with the regrettable comment, he said.

“I was really pissed off. I was too over the top. That’s the way I am though sometimes. I get so over the top — some part of the story is so crazy — it takes away from the actual point. Of course, I am not going to drink and drive,” he said in an interview.

“Anybody who knew me the first time realized I wasn’t being serious and when I corrected it … I get it. I get I shouldn’t have said that and it was me being childish.”

  1. of his cousin and some reaction to the remark prompted the apology and a plea to others not to consider drinking and driving. He said besides the potential of someone driving home after imbibing, some might just be tempted to move their car to a nearby area not covered in the parking ban, and that’s a risk they should not take, with innocent people on the streets.

“I hope people have the sense about themselves not to drink and drive, but you get people who might not be in a great financial position and it’s also not a great time, we are not in the best financial climate,’ he said.

“People are going to be idiots. Especially with four or five beer in them. And their options are a cab and a $275 tow or, ‘I can roll the dice.’ Some people are going to roll the dice.”

Ryan, who plays with the senior St. John’s Caps, said he understands there has to be snowclearing and there also might be times that construction might prevent overnight parking.

But he said there should be an alternative to a hefty towing fee, especially on days when the weather is fine.

He said he got more feedback with concerns about the ban. One person claimed they work downtown and got towed a half-hour after they parked for a 6 a.m. shift.

Ryan said he also heard of claims of designated drivers going into bars during the ban looking for the friends they were picking up and meanwhile their car was towed.

“Whether it’s the tow company, whether it’s the city or whether it’s the Bubba Shrimp Company, they are charging too much,” Ryan said.

“They need to show a little bit of discretion and think it out more. Now it’s just a feeding frenzy. They are just saying, ‘You are there, you are gone.’”

He also said that when he picked up the car at the city impound, he had to pay with a credit card, as he was told he would have to wait until Monday if he wanted to pay with cash or debit.

“I don’t like having credit cards. … I have one there for emergency purposes like this, but it’s a lucky thing I had it,” he said.

“I have $275 cash in my hand to give you, and you are telling me I can’t get my car back until Monday, but I got the money right here. There’s a problem with that also. Some people don’t have a credit card and they are extra penalized.”

Twitter: @bsweettweets

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