Local band survives scary crash

Travers Brothership escapes wreck unharmed physically, but not financially

Fred McCormick

Less than a month ago, the Travers Brothership - a band founded by Black Mountain natives and twin brothers Eric and Kyle Travers - was celebrating five years in the music business with a two-night show at Pisgah Brewing Co. Today, three of the four members of the band are lucky to be alive.

On July 10 the band was involved in an accident on Interstate 81 that ended with the van the band was in, as well as the trailer carrying the equipment, rolled over and was totaled.

Kyle drove the first leg of the trip home from Fayetteville, West Virginia, where the band played shows at July 7 and 9. Eric, whose struggles with epilepsy began when he was 16, drove the second leg. There was no reason to be concerned, the brothers said, since Eric had been cleared to drive by doctors and had not suffered a seizure in over two years.

“It was supposed to be a normal drive back home, like we do every weekend,” Kyle said.

The trip became anything but routine when Kyle was awakened around 10:40 a.m. by the screams of the band’s bass player, Josh Clark, frantically asking Eric what was going on. By that time there was little anyone could do to avoid the accident.

From left, Ian McIsaac, Eric Travers, Kyle Travers and Josh Clark make up the Travers Brothership, which lost its van and trailer in a wreck July 10. Kyle, Eric and Clark were in the vehicle at the time and escaped relatively unharmed.

“I had one second to look out the window, I saw a massive tree, and I could tell we were way off the road to the left and in the grass,” Kyle recalled. “I knew a flip was imminent and in those situations your adrenaline starts pumping and you think really fast. In a moment I was able to brace myself, recognize the van was about to flip and kind of make my peace.”

The van and trailer rolled over on the stretch of interstate in Virginia and came to rest on all four tires. Kyle regained consciousness and climbed out of the wreck. His brother and Clark had escaped uninjured. An off-duty firefighter told Kyle to rest until an ambulance came. At the hospital he was treated for minor injuries, including a swollen spleen.

Eric struggled to come to terms with the scene in front of him.

“Of course I felt guilty,” he said of his thoughts in the moments after the accident. “My brother was on a stretcher with a neck brace on. I’ve never seen him like that.”

Eric said he had been behind the wheel for about an hour when he suddenly realized Clark was panicking.

“That’s when I realized that I was in the middle of experience a wreck,” he said. “I came to, and the van was in the median and we were headed toward a tree. When I come to after an absence seizure, it only takes me a split second to recover. I was able to react enough to dodge the tree and get back on the road. But I over-corrected with a hard right, and that caused us to flip.”

It wasn’t the first accident to result from a seizure the 23-year-old Eric had. A similar accident three years ago led him to realization he was suffering from absence seizures, described by the International League Against Epilepsy as a generalized onset nonmotor seizure. Known previously as “petit mal seizures,” they start on both sides of the brain and result in brief changes in awareness.

“Nobody can tell when I’m going to have one of these,” Eric said. “I just kind of lose control of consciousness for a moment. Maybe 15 seconds.”

Eric began apologizing to Clark in the moments after the accident.

The Travers Brothership started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for their van, trailer and equipment after a July 10 accident in Virginia.

“I was cleared by my doctor to drive,” Eric said, still trying to make sense of the chain of events that led up to the wreck. “I didn’t expect for this to happen, and I knew we were going to be in trouble, financially, as a band.”

The timing of the accident is particularly bad for the Travers Brothership, who are in the midst of their “A Way To Survive” tour, named after their first full-length album released a year ago. Eric, the drummer, lost a drum set he had been playing on since he was 13.

Making matters worse, there was no collision insurance on the 2010 Chevrolet Express 3500 van the band purchased last year.

Eric’s condition made the cost of full coverage prohibitive, according to Kyle, who makes ends meet by working in construction when the band is not touring.

The Brothership started a campaign on the crowd-funding site GoFundMe in the hopes of raising $25,000 to cover the expenses incurred because of the crash.

“We have to pay off the van, which we still owe around $9,700 on,” Kyle said. “Eric’s drums were destroyed. A lot of our equipment suffered various degrees of damage, so some has to be replaced and some has to be repaired.”

But the band has not missed any shows since the accident.

“Right now we’re borrowing cars and back to the old ways of cramming equipment in,” Kyle said. “We have to keep playing shows. We have a commitment to our fans and the venues that booked us.”

Eric, who struggles with guilt, said his spirits have been boosted by the support he's received from the musical community. Kyle said the incident gave him a new a perspective on life.

"I thought about my son, my life, God, and I thought this was probably it," he said. "I was in tears when they put me in the ambulance because I was so happy to be alive."