“On August 15th, just before 11 am, Baroness and our crew were involved in a very bad crash while on tour. The brakes in our bus failed completely, on a notoriously dangerous, incredibly steep (12% grade) hill in Monkton Combe, UK, on our way from a show Bristol to another show in Southampton. Our bus went entirely out of control, and we had no choice other than hitting a perpendicular guardrail going about 50 mph at the bottom of the hill.
The guard rail and the 20 or 30 trees we ploughed through snapped like matchsticks as we went fully airborne and fell down more than 30 feet off of a viaduct to the ground below. Half of the band/crew were asleep while we lost our brakes, and a few of us were awake and sitting in the rear lounge. I was up front with our driver, and I bore witness to the entire thing.
Once our brakes failed, the bus could do little more than gain momentum and plummet down the hill. There was nothing anyone on the bus could have done during our descent to avoid the crash, and no one, the local residents, the police or any of us can believe we survived the impact.
Most people who have been in accidents understand the pre-trauma sensation of time slowing down. There were almost two minutes during which I knew we were heading for a collision. It felt like two hours. I remember the sound of the air-brakes failing, and the panicked cursing of our driver as we slowly realized how desperate the situation was.
I tried as hard as I could to yell and wake everyone up to prepare for impact. I remember the sounds of confusion from behind me as our collective terror rose. I remember seeing the guardrail split, then a cluster of trees smacking against the front windshield. While we were airborne my eyes met with our driver’s.
I knew then that we each shared the same look on our face; and I won’t soon forget it. We had spent enough time in the air to appreciate, make peace with and accept a fate we thought inevitable, and we looked at one another with a horribly silent “goodbye” in our eyes.
When the bus hit the ground, I flew like a missile into the windshield. I can still see the double-paned auto glass turning blue and the spider-webbing cracks spreading outwards from the impact my body made. I hit the glass so hard, that the entire windshield flew from the frame to the ground, and I bounced back inside the bus.
I landed on the ledge of the windshield. This came with an immediate and overwhelming pain throughout my body. I surveyed the damage to see instantly that my left leg was very obviously and badly broken. Then I lifted my arms forward to see if either had been damaged. My right arm was covered in burns, blood and broken glass, but working well enough.
My left arm was crushed beyond belief, broken in the middle of the bone in my upper arm (humerus), and hanging 90 degrees backwards, with many spurs of bone poking through muscles and sinew at the surface of my skin. The bone was shattered into seven free-floating pieces, and my wrist and hand were swinging behind my back, spasming freely. Instinctively, I reached behind my back, grabbed my wrist and re-broke my arm forwards, hugging it to my chest, where it remained for the next three hours until it was cast in plaster.
Meanwhile, I watched as some of the band was able to get off the bus and help the others, many of whom were broken-up as well, and several of whom were unconscious. There was blood, glass and diesel fuel everywhere.
We were all rushed to the hospital in Bath, and treated for our various injuries, broken arms, legs, vertebrae, bruises, cuts, etc. Our driver was air lifted to a separate hospital with many breaks as well. A few of us had to remain in the hospital for a few days, I was hospitalized for two weeks, following an eight-hour surgery in which my arm was rebuilt with the aid of 2 massive titanium plates, 20 screws and a foot-and-a-half of wire.
The 15″ incision took almost 50 staples to close up. I was left completely immobilized for the remainder of my hospital stay, able to do next-to-nothing on my own and in need of constant care. Following those excruciating first two weeks, I was quite literally stuck in an apartment for another three weeks with my family while waiting for my doctor to allow me to safely board an airplane, for fear of bloodclots and swelling.
I have just this past week returned back to the US and my home, where I am wheelchair-bound for another several weeks of physical therapy, learning to use my arm and leg again.
click here to read more…