The Ghost Inside's Jim Riley says bus crash taught him about true strength

The Ghost Inside
The Ghost Inside

The Ghost Inside’s Jim Riley has reflected on the horrific bus crash in El Paso, Texas, last November to mark the six-month anniversary of the tragedy.

The bassist says he’s learned so much from watching his bandmates on their long road to recovery – after the road accident left them with life-changing injuries and killed both drivers.

He says: “I went to bed last night knowing today was going to be emotional. On November 19 I woke up to a living nightmare. I knew something bad had happened but no clue the extent.

“I checked to make sure I wasn’t impaled by anything and got myself out that back window. I was the first person out of the bus and the first to see the scene. The next two hours were a blur. Everything was confusion. Fearing for the lives of my best friends and learning of the two drivers’ lives lost.

“One by one the other guys emerged from the wreckage, a couple on their own but most on backboards. I remember feeling lost and helpless.”

Riley continues: “I’m the tour dad – the guy that fixes what breaks and looks after our little family. I was stuck on the sideline while my guys fought for their survival. Even now, I want to heal them.

“I would trade my body for theirs in a heartbeat. But they are teaching me the true meaning of strength every day. In the face of countless doctors, complications, and a totally unexpected new life, they remain unbroken.

Riley says that despite the traumatising event, the band still remain in good spirits, and adds: “Some days suck. We have each other. Some days are great. We have each other. But above it all, we have the days and the chance to get through them and see another.

“This life is an incredible gift and I am fortunate to share it with such warriors. To the rest of The Ten, you inspire me immeasurably. Hey death, get fucked.”

Drummer Andrew Tkaczyk, who lost a leg in the bus crash, played drums for the first time since he lost his leg in March. The Ghost Inside are scheduled for 2017’s Vans Warped Tour, but guitarist Zach Johnson says the band will take their time to recover before returning to the stage.

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Stray From The Path issue track in tribute to friends The Ghost Inside

Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.