Drummer Chad “McKnz” McKenzie is thankful that he was still able to share his story following a horrific single vehicle accident on New Years Eve. McKenzie was headed to Keith "Big Po" Powell’s for an evening celebration and music jam when the S10 he was traveling in hit standing water on the roadway and went airborne to only come down and land inside of a barn.
McKenzie is the drummer for Big Po and DRIX and has performed with various other artists and bands throughout the years spanning many genres.
McKenzie remembers portions of his most recent accident but did fall unconscious at moments that has left him with some gaps in the events of the evening.
“I remember I got really excited and super pumped about a song that came on the radio just before this happened and I had turned it up,” McKenzie said. “I was traveling around a S curve and that road was horrible. Earlier in the day I had hydroplaned slightly but nothing major happened then. The last thing I remember was turning up the radio and then coming to while I was airborne. I was saying to myself this is not good, tried stomping on the brake and then I was just knocked out.”
McKenzie said luckily a vehicle was traveling behind him. The drivers told McKenzie they saw him catch water and hydroplane and they said it was apparent he was trying to correct it but had already crossed over the highway and then was suddenly airborne. McKenzie remembers the song that was playing, it was ‘Thank You’ by Sevendust.
McKenzie said a flood of people he knew and didn’t know really showed up for him when he needed it and that helped ease some of his anxiety.
“The tow truck driver was extremely sweet, he unloaded my gear and helped us put it all in Michael’s truck and Michael he was a God sent,” McKenzie said. “I met so many good people from this.”
The tow truck driver who arrived on the scene told McKenzie that the road had recently been paved over and had been holding water at various times. The tow truck driver said he had been to this area to tow quite a few people that had also hydroplaned in this area of the road.
“I don’t know if I just got unlucky or just hit it just right,” McKenzie said. “But either way I have not had that feeling in a long time and I don’t want that for anybody. It was the feeling of loss of control and being out here so far from everything. I am thankful my phone still worked since it was just in the middle of nowhere.”
McKenzie said when he was finally able to make it to the home of Big Po with the help of Michael Simmons. He was overwhelmed with the care that everyone showed, especially Big Po.
“He sat in the recliner next to the bed he made me sleep in and I was going in and out a few times,” McKenzie said. “Each time I woke up he was hovering over me to make sure I was still breathing and doing okay.”
McKenzie said everyone that was there pitched in 100%.
“Everyone that was there, there was like a mob of people, they all came out and helped get my gear in and got me settled,” McKenzie said. “They were checking over me, giving me ice packs, I never felt so comfortable in my life. When it first happened, I felt instantly alone and hurt and then surprisingly here are all these people to help.”
McKenzie said he tried to encourage Big Po to go back and enjoy the evening with his friends and other musicians.
“I told him to go back out and hang out with those people,” McKenzie said. “I told him I was relieved to be there, that my feet were on solid ground and all I kept hearing once he went back out into the other room was about how concerned he was still for his drummer. He was struggling. I don’t like to feel like a burden to anyone and I didn’t even have to hint around for anything they were just throwing things at me that I needed. I felt like I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone else since someone had already drove down to Arkansas to pick me up.”
McKenzie said that the group of people, family and followers around Big Po was amazing.
“Overwhelming there are too many shitty human beings out there and it is disheartening,” McKenzie said. “But these people were genuinely amazing. It blew me away how they are such good-hearted people. I know he has a good team behind him, I have not met one sketchy or bad person in his circle.”
The following day McKenzie made his way back home to Kentucky via plane with the help of his girlfriend Savanna. Once he returned home, he was seen by doctors and the injuries he sustained were made clearer.
“I went and got checked out and they were certain my foot was broken or fractured,” McKenzie said. “They did x-rays and didn’t see anything broken or fractured but they were still concerned. My back was very sore all over. I did have fractures on my face, one above my right eye, an orbital fracture, that has a lot of swelling. They said the swelling was so bad they ordered a CT and I will have to talk to an ENT. I might have some surgeries in my future for that.”
McKenzie said he is just beat up with bumps and bruises all over and just moving around is painful.
“I am very lucky besides my eye and I don’t understand how I made it out of that, but it shook me and messed me up a little bit,” McKenzie said. “I had just lost my Dad a few months ago and I don’t know if Dad put me there because I don’t know if I should have still been here.”
The tow truck driver had issues getting McKenzie’s S10 truck from its location and had no idea how the vehicle missed the many number of trees, light poles and cables that were in the area.
A few days later DRIX made the trip with his wife to see McKenzie and see how he was doing.
“I found out when my wife was talking with his fiancé Savanna,” DRIX said. “I immediately tried to call him and didn’t get a chance to talk to him that night. Big Po was keeping me up to date with some information on how he was, where he was and how he was doing. I finally had a chance to talk to him the next day while he was on a layover to home. It was definitely nerve-racking since he was almost 10 hours from home, not knowing the severity of it and especially since I could not reach him.”
DRIX said when he was finally able to speak with McKenzie that he was ready to be home and it was hard for him being so far away from his family and friends.
“He said he was scared especially being so far away especially if he would have had to end up in the hospital,” DRIX said. “He was in a lot of pain when I talked to him and he was telling me what happened. I just told him I loved him. We have a really strong bond and since we have traveled for years together, I care a lot about that guy and he is not a burden to anyone. We have been doing this together for almost five years.”
DRIX said when they made the trip to his house, they just wanted to make sure he was alright and see if he needed anything. He continued by saying it is always nice to hug the ones you care about.
McKenzie reflects on that night and said he feels very fortunate.
“I am surprised I am not more severely injured or even here for that matter,” McKenzie said. “I am very lucky and fortunate. I have always tried to appreciate everything but this is a whole other thing. It makes me very grateful.”
McKenzie said 2021 still looks brighter and he is looking forward to picking back up and touring again. McKenzie said he loves being out there performing and meeting people.
McKenzie is engaged to be married to his fiancé, Savanna, in April and they have four teenagers at home.