The Ghost Inside drummer Andrew Tkaczyk has opened up on the fatal tour bus crash in which he lost a leg.
The band were involved in an accident in El Paso, Texas, on November 19 last year. Their driver Greg Hoke died, along with the driver of the other vehicle involved, Steven Cunningham. Guitarist Zach Johnson, frontman Jonathan Vigil and Tkaczyk were airlifted to hospital and were in a critical condition.
Tkaczyk is now being treated at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he’s undergoing physical therapy to allow him to walk, drive and play drums again.
Tkaczyk says: “We were all sleeping so I woke up in the debris. I was laying on my back and I looked down at my leg and I noticed my leg was absolutely broken. I couldn’t feel anything – I was in shock. I remember laying there telling myself, ‘Just keep breathing. You’ve got to stay alive for mom and dad, my brothers, for my friends and family.
“They got us in the chopper and flew us out, and that’s the last I remember of the actual accident. I woke up in hospital 10 days later as I was in a medically-induced coma. I was already starting to think about ways to how I could go back to my normal life – my job. Right there off the bat I was like, ‘Right, let’s do this.’”
He says he’s been helped immeasurably by the Mary Free Bed’s medical director, brain injury and post-concussion doctor, Stephen C Bloom – who is also a drummer with his band Mid-Life Crisis.
Tkaczyk adds: “Immediately I fell in love with the place. It was also great that my doctor was a drummer as well, so we hit it off right off the bat. When I found that out, I said, ‘Maybe he can fill in for me.”
Bloom adds: “He’s a better drummer than I am! He plays a little bit more intricate stuff than we do.”
Tkaczyk reports that he burst into tears when he discovered the band’s label Epitaph would pay all profits from sales of The Ghost Inside albums directly to the band in light of the accident, and adds: “I bawled my eyes out. It just hit me real hard because you don’t hear about labels doing things like that. They really care about us.
“It’s been overwhelming the amount of support from our fans and other friends of ours who are in bands that have helped.”
Vocalist Vigil gave an update on his status last month saying he was back on his feet after suffering a fractured back and neck, two broken ankles, ligament damage to his knee, a broken tooth and a wound on his back. He also had to have a skin graft on his right elbow.