The road crew for country star Josh Turner was only minutes away from Wednesday night’s concert venue in Paso Robles when tragedy struck.
A sound engineer for the singer was killed and seven members of his road crew injured when their tour bus crashed Wednesday night as they left a show at Vina Robles Amphitheatre.
The tour bus was headed east on Highway 46 East at about 11:40 p.m., the CHP said, when it veered off the roadway near the town of Shandon and plunged over a 50-foot embankment into a sandy creekbed.
Josh Turner and his band were on separate buses and were not injured in the crash, according to Cal Fire.
The crash site is approximately 15 minutes from the popular Paso Robles concert venue, east of McMillan Canyon Road.
It’s along a stretch of highway that for years was known as “Blood Alley” before widening and dividers improved safety.
The site is only a few miles from the location of the infamous wreck that killed James Dean on Sept. 30, 1955, near the Cholame “Y” where Highway 41 branches off from Highway 46.
The CHP said the bus was driving east in the right, slow lane of the highway at about 55 to 60 mph. For reasons that are still unknown, the bus left the road, then continued along the dirt shoulder.
The bus, which was pulling an equipment trailer, barreled through a barbed wire fence and dense vegetation for about 200 yards before driving off the sheer edge of the creekbed, the CHP said. It came to rest in the sand with its front smashed in.
The impact ejected two people from the vehicle, and one of them — 64-year-old sound engineer David Turner — was killed.
The other person who was ejected and six other occupants on the bus received moderate to severe injuries and were taken to hospitals, the CHP said.
The driver of the bus was 39-year-old Bradley Dratnol, the CHP said.
Dratnol was taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, and information about the extent of his injuries was not immediately available.
The investigation into the collision is ongoing.
‘Truly a master’
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that a family friend confirmed Turner was a resident of Oxford, Mississippi, and was not related to Josh Turner.
Chad Jeffers, a guitarist for Carrie Underwood, posted to Facebook that David Turner was “truly a master” in his craft, and a veteran of the music industry who had handled sound for Tammy Wynette.
David Turner had been a member of Josh Turner’s road crew for more than 12 years, according to hottytoddy.com.
“This is all of our worst fears come true on the road,” country singer Ryan Hurd tweeted. “Sending so much love to that road family this morning.”
Turner was set to play at the Central Washington State Fair in Yakima on Friday, according to his tour schedule, a drive of about 15 hours from Paso Robles. His schedule then had him returning to California to play at the Kern County Fair in Bakersfield on Monday, Sept. 23, and the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto on Wednesday, Sept. 25.
He has since postponed the rest of his September tour dates following the crash, Universal Music Group Nashville said in a statement to The Tribune.
“Josh Turner and his road family have suffered a devastating loss,” the company said in the statement. “Please keep the crew, band and Josh in your thoughts and prayers.”
“Everyone is still processing what’s happened,” Leigh Parr Malleus, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an email to The Tribune, adding that Josh Turner plans to say something personally about the crash.
As of Thursday evening, Turner has not commented publicly on the tragedy.