A bus carrying crew members for country singer Josh Turner’s tour went off an embankment after leaving a show in Paso Robles, California, killing sound engineer David Turner and leaving seven others hospitalized.
Turner and his band were on a separate bus following the crew bus and reportedly stopped to assist after the deadly accident Wednesday night. At least two of the seven injuries among the survivors were said to be serious. The singer has not yet issued a personal statement, but all remaining September shows on Turner’s tour have been canceled.
David Turner, no relation to the singer, was a monitor engineer who’d worked with Josh Turner since 2006, part of a long career in country music that stretched back to working with Tammy Wynette, Eddie Rabbitt, Conway Twitty and Hank Williams Jr.
Officials said the bus (seen in the photo above) veered hundreds of feet off a highway before going over a cliff and down an embankment, landing in a sandy bed. Investigators are looking into the cause of the accident, which was not immediately apparent. The tragedy occurred less than a half-hour after Turner’s crew left Paso Robles’ Vina Robles Amphitheater, on a flat stretch of highway 46 near the central California town of Shandon.
The crash site is just a few miles from the equally flat spot on Highway 46 where James Dean perished in 1955, which is still a magnet for Dean fans and curious sightseers.
David Turner was one of two people ejected from the bus. The other, production manager Richard Lazarus, was reported by Nashville’s WKRN to be in the ICU with a broken back, cracked chest bone and broken legs.
WKRN talked with a friend of members of the crew, Jerry Slone, who had spoken to Lazarus over the phone. Slone said his hospitalized friend conveyed that “in the front lounge they noticed the bus started to sway” as it apparently traveled well off the highway. “‘It was like we hit a real fast speed bump,’ he said, ‘and then the next thing you know we were airborne… and I’m literally floating inside the bus as it’s airborne.'”
Said Slone, “My understanding (is that) Josh and the band were there on-site helping rescue and pull people from the wreckage.” Slone also told the station that “their wonderful bus driver, I think, is still fighting for his life.”
Of David Turner, Slone said, “Sweet guy, gentle soul, big heart.”
Josh Turner rose to fame in 2003 and has had No. 1 hits with “Your Man,” “Would You Go With Me,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance” and “All Over Me.” He’s been nominated for two Grammys and seven CMA Awards, and his country-gospel songs or side projects have made him a frequent winner at the Inspirational Country Music Awards.