Blackberry Smoke Bassist, Bus Driver, Crew Member Rescue Motorists From Car Fire
You see a lot of crazy things when traveling the country -- and the world -- in a band such as Blackberry Smoke ... and, sometimes, you have to get involved in them. For the band's bassist, Richard Turner, and a couple of crew members, on Tuesday morning (April 19), that meant rescuing three people from a car fire.
On Saturday night (April 16), Blackberry Smoke wrapped up a string of California tour dates with a show in San Francisco, and then headed back home to Atlanta. Most of the band and crew flew, but Turner, bus driver Harry Wing and lighting director Chris "Thumper" Hathaway made the trek by bus ("I love the scenery and all the crazy crap that goes on," Turner says by way of explanation). As they were driving through El Paso, Texas, on I-10 East, during the early hours of Tuesday morning, they came upon a car that had flipped over and was on fire.
"I thought we were stopping at a gas station or something," Turner, who was in PJs and watching TV in the back of the bus, tells The Boot. "But, uh, we pulled over ... There was a car flipped over right outside our window."
According to KVIA-TV, an orange Dodge Charger had rolled over and landed on its roof around 2AM at I-10 East's McRae Boulevard exit. Turner, Wing and Hathaway were the first people on the scene, in advance of first responders.
"Harry was off the bus first with a fire extinguisher, and Thumper was right behind him, and I was right behind him," Turner recalls. "I was on the driver's side, pulling at the door, trying to get it open, and Thumper was on the passenger's side ... and he pulled three people out of that in the time it took me to figure out that I wasn't gonna get the door open on the other side. And the whole time, the car was on fire, and Harry was wielding a small extinguisher on it."
The three in the car were a man, woman and young girl who Turner estimated to be "8 or 10 years old." Emergency dispatchers tell KVIA that the driver, the man, was taken to Del Soto Hospital with serious injuries; Turner remembers that he was "bleeding pretty badly." The news station notes that the highway was blocked off for "several hours," according to the TV news station, so that police could investigate; however, the cause of the crash has not been revealed.
"If anything, Harry kept the car from burning everybody, and Thumper pulled three people out," Turner says, adding later, "If Harry hadn't stopped, those people would be dead, I'm sure of it."
Sadly, this accident wasn't Turner's first time helping motorists out of a burning car; actually, it was his third.
"We see all kinds of this s--t," he admits, noting that because of that, "I know how a car will burn; they don't explode like on TV."
Blackberry Smoke have a number of shows scheduled throughout the spring and summer, including the 2016 Smokin' Mule Tour with Gov't Mule in August. A complete list of upcoming dates is available on their website.
Country Music's Scariest Bus Accidents