It’s like a horrible nightmare that I keep waiting to wake up from. But it’s real. Very real.
The details are starting to become clearer. This is what I know right now:
- At 7:30 this morning, our tour bus crashed on Interstate 94 just south of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
- On our bus, Igor, Miguel, and my wife sustained injuries and were taken to an area hospital, where they were treated, tested, and released.
- There was a fatality in a van that our bus hit during the course of the accident. We apparently lost control because of contact with a semi truck and crossed the median into oncoming traffic.
- Miguel, who was driving our bus at the time, has been arrested by the Wisconsin State Patrol and is in the Eau Claire County Jail as I write this. He has been charged with Homicide by Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle.
I am sitting in a hotel room in Eau Claire, Wisconsin right now, with a wife that is badly bruised but still alive. My wife, Igor, and Miguel all needed to be treated for injuries after this morning’s crash. After they released our tour group, the WSP was right there, ready to arrest Miguel…and they did just that.
We found out that the other vehicle involved was a van with a family whose grandfather was visiting from India. Unfortunately, the grandfather was the one who lost his life. The son of the grandfather, along with his wife and their two kids (a boy and a girl), were hurt but survived. We heard the young girl had some pretty serious lacerations to her face and scalp; the young boy had some broken bones. The mom was wearing an arm sling around the ER in the hours after we all got there.
The toughest part about the past few hours was sharing the waiting room with the family of the deceased. Apparently, the van was headed to a 4th of July family gathering; once news of the accident reached the other relatives, the waiting room filled up quick. Everybody was sharing stories of the gentleman who has passed; what a kind and generous man he was, how he had changed lives and lived well. There was speculation as to what happened. One person said “I hear it was a band tour bus that hit them. Was there any alcohol or drugs involved, you think?” One of the family members there, a guy around my age, spoke up and said “Accidents happen. It was too early for that kind of business anyway, and besides: that’s stereotyping. Not all musicians are like that. I’m sure that who ever did this feels just completely awful about what happened.”
He had no idea that the three people sitting just 10 feet away from him (me, Crystal, and Igor) had survived the crash.
Thankfully, he was our voice in that moment. It was all we could do to sit quietly and wait for our cab to take us to this hotel. Because of the legal implications of speaking to any of the relatives, we were advised by our legal counsel to not speak to anyone – press included – about the incident. It was so tough to just sit there in tears and not be able to tell them how sorry we were; that it was an accident, and one that we likely couldn’t have prevented (based on preliminary reports). I wanted to just hug them all and cry with them…let them know how sorry we were for their loss…but I wasn’t allowed to.
Needless to say, we’re all shell shocked right now.
We all went to get something to eat, and with it being the 4th of July, our waiter was all jacked up and happy…and we were all quiet and miserable. He must have thought we were a support group for people with depression…and really, we were. It was the most quiet, awkward meal I’ve sat through in a long, long time.
I need to tend to my wife now, and check in on everybody else. I’ll be in touch soon.