EDIT // We are staying advised and adjusting the goal as we learn more. Every single donation is so appreciated and we just want to let everyone know that Tyler, his family and the band are feeling the love from everyone.
Hi everyone, Matt here.
Yesterday, we made a vague statement explaining that a freak accident had occurred on our way to Las Vegas and that we could use your thoughts, prayers, healing vibes and everything else. We apologize for not disclosing more about what had happened but I want to start by letting you know how grateful we are for the insane amount of support and outpouring of love we’ve been given despite the lack of information you have. The most important thing at the time was protecting the privacy of the family, band members and everyone else affected. Now that we have more clarity in regards to the diagnosis/prognosis/recovery, we can let y'all know exactly what happened.
Please be aware that I'll be making mentions of gore and other content that may be sensitive to some. I'll also be attaching some photos that may be considered gruesome or visceral, but we'll be leaving out the worst of the photos we have as we believe they're not appropriate to share.
CLIFFDIVER was scheduled to perform this coming Friday, May 26th in Las Vegas at a Punk Rock Bowling sanctioned event in support of the amazing non-profit Punk Rock Saves Lives. Joey, Dony, Eliot, Tyler and myself (Matt) left Tulsa on Tuesday, May 23rd with our van and trailer to head in that direction - planning to make stops in Albuquerque to stay with family and then camp out at Zion National Park before arriving in Vegas. Briana and Gil were scheduled to fly into Vegas on Thursday to meet the rest of the band. The 5 of us who would be driving there met at my house early Tuesday morning and ran several errands before finally leaving the Tulsa area around 10:00 AM. We were in exceptionally high spirits because this was going to be our first trip in CLIFFDIVER's new tour van, which was significantly more comfortable and nicer than our previous one. We were probably the most excited we've ever been to be spending the week together and getting back on the road.
We had made it almost an hour outside of Tulsa when everything changed in an instant. We were near Stroud, Oklahoma traveling westbound on Interstate 44 when at approximately 11:00 AM, there was an enormous BOOM sound that sounded like a cannon being fired as the entire front of the van filled with glass shards and dust. As the air cleared, we quickly realized that the driver's window was shattered and Tyler, who was driving at the time, was knocked completely unconscious. Eliot, sitting in the passenger seat and barely able to see, was able to grab the steering wheel and keep the van from going off the road. I had been sitting directly behind Tyler and after making my way to the front of the van, I started shaking Tyler's body and yelling his name to wake him up. At this point, we noticed that blood was spewing out of his neck/head region and drenching his body and the surrounding area. Terrifyingly enough, my only thought was that Tyler is dead and I need to get control of the van before the rest of us join him. Tyler's right foot was locked onto the accelerator while the van reached speeds of nearly 80 mph and being buckled into the seat, his body was impossible to move. After struggling for what felt like an eternity, I was finally able to maneuver his foot off the accelerator and position myself on top of his blood-soaked body to slam the brakes and steer the van onto the side of the highway. Once we came to a stop, Joey was quick to shout first-aid directions to Dony and myself who were trying to apply pressure to his entire neck and throat region as it was impossible to pinpoint where the injury was due to the amount of blood. Eliot immediately dialed 911 and thankfully we had stopped right in front of a mile marker, so he was able to tell them exactly where we were. Tyler appeared to regain the tiniest bit of consciousness just before first responders arrived, which was a relief as we were all certain we had just watched our best friend die. We still had no idea what had happened at this point until he was placed in an ambulance and gained stability but we were assured by everyone there that the actions we took not only saved Tyler's life but all of our lives.
Once he was stable and paramedics were able to examine him, the sheriff approached us and told us that they found a large steel chain link lodged in his neck. The only reasonable explanation of what happened is that a semi-truck was pulling a trailer that had a load-bearing chain strap that had snapped under pressure, launching the chain link across the interstate and through our van window into Tyler's neck. Tyler was rushed to the hospital and we followed behind him as soon as we could. The emergency center determined that Tyler's carotid artery had been punctured, his jugular was lacerated, he had fractures in his neck, had lost approximately 2 liters of blood and needed emergency surgery. The main concern at this point was whether or not he would experience neurological/brain damage. After coming out of a successful surgery, the doctors determined that brain damage would not be a threat and that the chain link struck his neck in such a way that it caused a hematoma and kept him from bleeding out. In just over 24 hours, Tyler was moved out of the ICU and into a normal room. Every doctor has made clear that despite there still being a long road to recovery ahead and a lingering possibility of his carotid artery rupturing, this was nothing short of a miracle and 99 times out of 100 the patient wouldn't walk away from this type of injury.
We still don't know exactly how long Tyler will stay in the hospital and what exactly his recovery is going to look like but we'll be there with him every step of the way and support him and his family in every way we can. We do know that he won't be returning to work for quite some time and considering the number of expenses that have been incurred from these events on top of missing work for the foreseeable future, we are asking for any donations to help make this situation as smooth as possible. We are hoping to raise enough to cover all incurred medical expenses, lost income, rehabilitation, repairs and damages and whatever else it takes to ensure that Tyler, his family and the band can fully recover and recuperate.
Lastly, I just want to reiterate how grateful and appreciative we are to have so many friends and fans that care so much about what we do. This little family we've created is so important to me and so many others that it's truly hard to fathom sometimes. This series of events could've gone a million different ways and obviously, there's a substantial amount of trauma to unpack for everyone involved but I am so, so thankful that this wasn't the end of CLIFFDIVER and we get a second chance to continue spreading hope - no matter how cruel the universe can be.
We do ask that you not contact Tyler, his family members, or the band members directly at this time as it's all a bit overwhelming and we are trying to focus on healing and getting Tyler back home. If you have questions, or concerns, or just want to say something nice, please feel free to reach out via CLIFFDIVER's social media accounts (@cliffdiverOK) or you can contact the band at www.cliffdiverok.com
We are only sharing images that were deemed acceptable by Tyler and his family, we hope to convey the severity of the situation.
The chain link that was lodged in Tyler's neck
Where the chain link entered the van