ERIE, PA. (THECOUNT) — Sydney Benes GoFundMe: Carson Briere, a student at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, was caught on a pub’s surveillance camera as he appeared to push Sydney Benes‘ wheelchair down a staircase while she was in the restroom.
Briere, 19, a hockey player at Mercyhurst and the son of Daniel Briere, a former NHL player and the current interim general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, has since issued an apology.
Hi im Sydney and it was my chair that was pushed down the stairs. I’m so thankful for all of Sullivan’s help in this situation and the kind comments I see on Julia’s post. I swear I really don’t wanna keep a cent of the donated money, I’d much rather give it to those who need it. pic.twitter.com/1I5q05jdeO
— Sydney (@_legless_wonder) March 16, 2023
Briere, a junior at the university, has also been suspended from his college hockey team, the school’s athletic department said.
“I am deeply sorry for my behavior on Saturday,” said Briere in a statement released after the video was shared to social media earlier this week. “There is no excuse for my actions and I will do whatever I can to make up for this serious lack of judgment.”
In the video, which was captured just after 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Briere and two other men are seen surrounding the empty wheelchair, which was said to be left at the top of a staircase at Sullivan’s after its owner was carried to the pub’s downstairs bathrooms. Briere then sits in the unoccupied wheelchair before getting up and pushing it down the stairs.
Hi, my name is Julia Zukowski, and as you have already seen I posted a video on Twitter of a college student pushing someone’s wheelchair down a flight of stairs. I am starting this gofundme to help raise money towards a new wheelchair for the person! Any donation helps :) Thank you!
As the listed organizer Nathaniel Sanders of this go fund me I would like to thank everyone for the support. This was put together in such haste in response to people wanting to make donations that a lot of information was not added to the story that probably should have been initially.
The woman that the chair belongs to is Sydney Benes a double amputee that needs the chair to be mobile while she is learning to use her prosthetics. She wanted to remain anonymous during this till she filed a police report for the damages to the chair. That report was filed Wednesday morning and has since made her identity known.
The bar that this incident happend [sic] at is Sullivans Pub in Erie PA. Sullivans is a bar that was built before ADA compliances were enacted and hence grandfathered in and the reason that the restrooms are located at the bottom of the stairs. This is the reason that the chair was parked at the stop of the stairs. I personally physically carry her down the stairs any time she has to use the restroom.
Julia the original poster of the tweet that has since went viral and I are well aware that the $1,500 goal has been reached and exceeded. We have talked to Sydney and she wants to use any money in excess of what it will cost to repair or replace the chair to help others that are in need and in similar situations.
We do thank everyone for their kindness and generosity with this.
Mercyhurst confirmed an investigation shortly after the “disturbing” video went viral. In a subsequent statement, the school identified Carson Briere as the perpetrator.
“Mercyhurst University has heard a considerable outcry regarding the social media video of student Carson Briere showing him pushing an unoccupied wheelchair down a flight of stairs,” the university wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. “Mr. Briere today issued a statement taking responsibility for his actions, and in doing so, he recognized his behavior reflects a ‘serious lack of judgment’ and that he is ‘deeply sorry.’ The actions displayed in the video make our hearts heavy and fall short of our Mercy belief in the inherent dignity of each person. We pray for and are in solidarity with the victim and all persons with disabilities who rightfully find actions like this to be deeply offensive. Our Mercy tradition also reminds us that students and all people who make poor choices deserve opportunities to learn, change behaviors, and atone for harmful actions.”
The Mercyhurst Athletics Department also confirmed Briere had been placed on “interim suspension” from the team, along with the two other student-athletes seen in the video.