One week after suffering a head injury, NCAA referee Oliver 'Butch' Mousseaux has passed away. Mousseaux, 48, fell during a pre-game warmup during a WCHA Final Five contest on March 18 between Michigan Tech and Ferris State at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
Mousseaux’s injury happened as he was turning during warmups. He caught an edge and wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time. His head hit the ice, he was knocked unconscious and had to be taken from the ice on a stretcher, at which point he was transported to hospital. Because of the fall, Mousseaux suffered brain swelling, which resulted in him being placed in a medically induced coma.
"It's just shocking to me how it happened," Macaire Mousseaux, Oliver’s wife, told MLive.com’s Peter Wallner. "I get the logistics of it all that he had his hands in his pockets and was just casually skating backward and tripped somehow. He didn't have an opportunity to break his fall and slammed his head.”
According to a Wednesday update on a GoFundMe page set up for Mousseaux, he was also suffering from an infection in his lungs.
Macaire told Wallner she was overwhelmed by the support shown for her husband, calling it “incredible.” Kevin Kelly, who set up the GoFundMe and has been updating Mousseaux’s status on Facebook, wrote that the support shown for Mousseaux is unsurprising considering how much he was adored by the hockey community.
“Butch always had a smile on his face and an ability to make everyone on the ice know they were going to be treated fairly and with respect,” Kelly wrote. “The only thing Butch enjoyed more than hockey was his loving family.”
Kelly said Mousseaux is survived by his wife and three children.
Wallner reported that Mousseaux’s injury will change the policy surrounding helmets in pre-game warmups. Helmets are not currently required, but WCHA supervisor Greg Shepherd told Wallner this will change the rule.
"That's something that I will put forward and I'm sure everybody will agree. I doubt anybody would balk at it," Shepherd told Wallner. "You know what? We have to do it. I know the supervisors from each league and I don't think anybody would have any problem with it."