Steven Winter wishes he could bundle up all the warm wishes, love and support he’s received since his bandmates Daniel Uzilevsky (Danny Uzi) and Erik Howard Smyth were hit, head-on, by a Santa Rosa man driving the wrong way on Highway 101 early on Aug. 19.
“There’s been such a huge outpouring of sympathy and support,” said the Novato resident and Elephant Listening Project bass player. “I wish there was a way I could package that up in a ball and take it to Danny [in the hospital] and say ‘Danny, look!’ ”
Uzilevsky, 43, is on a breathing machine in a Santa Rosa hospital. While he’s on a slow road to recovery, he punctured both his lungs, broke his femur and broke several ribs in the accident, which occurred on southbound U.S. Highway 101 northwest of Petaluma. According to a close family friend who asked to remain anonymous, Uzilevsky did not break his arm or ankle, as the California Highway Patrol had originally reported.
Smyth, also 42, was driving the Nissan Pathfinder around 12:30 a.m. when it collided with a 2002 Mazda Protege driven by Dustin Troy Loff, 33. Smyth, who suffered from broken ribs and broken lower vertebrae, was released from the hospital Wednesday.
The eve of the accident, Uzilevsky and Smyth, both San Anselmo residents, were returning home after an Elephant Listening Project gig in Cotati.
The crash had reportedly scattered debris across the roadway. “We’re really lucky they are alive,” Winter said.
Friends, fans and the local music community have rallied together to help Uzilevsky and Smyth, from writing on the band's Facebook page to pulling out their checkbooks.
A fund established to help the two musicians pay their medical bills raised more than $13,000 in three days.
“As most of you know, being a professional musician doesn't pay very well and both of them have no medical insurance.”
“There is going to be a long recovery,” Winter said. “I have no idea what the [medical costs] will be, but I know it will be significant.”
Also, the band lost lots of gear in the wreck.
“They had many vintage guitars and guitar amps,” Winter said. “I know for sure that Danny’s guitar is shattered and I think both their amps are toast.”
Talks are underway about having several benefit shows to cover his band mates’ medical expenses and related costs. Winter and the band’s drummer, Loring Jones, have had “tons” of musicians and bands contacting them about doing benefit concerts, he said. And a motorcycle club has contacted them about organizing a benefit ride.
Patch will have details about the benefit concerts and other fundraisers as soon as it is available. Click on the "Keep me posted" button under the article to get updates.
Winter said after he posted news about the accident on Facebook, there were hundreds and hundreds of responses within hours. “There were responses from people who don’t even know us, who sent in well wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery,” he said. “It’s been really incredible the amount of care, concern, love and support that’s been pouring in.”
Also, people who didn’t know the musicians have been donating to their fund. “It’s been really touching and incredible,” Winter said.
Elephant Listening Project, which formed more than a year ago, often played in front of packed crowds in Fairfax. Listen to some of the band's songs at the top of the page. “Danny is the unofficial mayor of Fairfax and Erik has lived there a long time,” Winter said.
This summer Elephant Listening Project had performed at , and the Sleeping Lady in Fairfax.
Uzilevsky has been in several local bands, including Chrome Johnson and Honey Dust. Uzilevsky has performed at 19 Broadway once or twice a week for years, Winter said.
Loff had two prior DUI convictions and is currently on probation, which requires that he consume no alcohol. Both drivers are under investigation for driving under the influence, according to the California Highway Patrol.