(Travis has talked extensively over the years about his “horrible feeling” about the plane, the frightening accident, his challenging recuperation, and his following PTSD and suicide thoughts.)
On September 19, 2008, Travis was travelling in a private Learjet from Columbia, South Carolina, to Los Angeles. Along with his closest buddy, Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein, security guard Charles “Che” Still, and assistant Chris Baker, he was travelling. Chris and Che tragically perished in the collision. James Bland and Sarah Lemmon, the aircraft’s two pilots, concurred. DJ AM (below) lived through the collision with Travis but passed just a year later. Travis previously revealed that there were several concerning omens before he got on the plane that had left him unnerved. In fact, his then-wife, Shanna Moakler, was going to join him on the trip but made a last-minute decision to stay at home with their children in case something happened. Travis said that Shanna had told him:
“Just in case something happens, I don’t want us both to be going.”
And Alabama, who was just a toddler at the time, also had a bad feeling about the flight. Travis previously told Larry King:
“My daughter was hysterically crying that she didn’t want me to fly that day. She said: ‘The roof is going to come off’ and I was like: ‘What happened? Was there an earthquake this morning? What triggered this?’ She just kept screaming it and crying it.” Travis then called his dad before boarding, warning him that he had “a horrible feeling.”
“Everything felt wrong,” he told The Real. “I called my pops from outside the plane like: ‘This plane is really small, I have a horrible feeling. If anything happens, make sure my kids are OK.’”
The National Transportation Safety Board’s inquiry into the incident, concluded:
[That the tyres on the plane ruptured before takeoff, which led the pilot to decide to abort the flight at high speed—not a recommended course of action.]
“The landing gear popped, it sounded like gunshots,” Travis said to Larry King. “Next to my head, it sounded like someone was discharging a pistol. The plane just lost control after that. In essence, the flight would start in the air, crash to the ground, and then resume. Before the final impact, the plane was entirely on fire. The flames and smoke got greater every time we struck the ground. Travis was followed by DJ AM as he opened the plane’s door and down its wing to safety. However, he unintentionally leaped into the aircraft in his haste to leave, which led to grave injuries.
Travis remarked on the Joe Rogan Experience:
“When the plane blew up, I ran through the emergency exit in such a rush to get out that I leaped right into the jet, which is full of gasoline. My whole body became bright. I was completely covered with jet fuel. “When I jumped into the jets I started running, I was ripping off my clothes because that’s what my instinct told me to do but little did I know I was still on fire because I was soaked in jet fuel,” Travis added. DJ AM was also on fire but managed to put the blaze out by rolling on the ground. Afterward, he saved Travis by using his own shirt to put the flames out. Travis previously said of his friend’s quick thinking: “If he hadn’t done that, I probably wouldn’t have feet or legs today.”)
In fact, Travis almost did lose his right foot because his shoes and socks were the most soaked with fuel and were also on fire for the longest amount of time. In the end, he was in the hospital for 11 weeks and underwent 27 separate surgeries and skin grafts after suffering third-degree burns on 65% of his body.
Travis’s experience during his surgeries:
Travis said he would often wake up during surgery because his history of drug use impacted his anesthesia. “In about 11 of my 30 surgeries in the burns center, I woke up swinging on doctors. I’d be opened up and just go crazy,” he said. “I would try and get off the table, I don’t think I knew what was going on, but they just couldn’t give me enough medication to knock me out because I’d been self-medicating for so long and abusing meds for so long. I’d just wake up in the middle of anesthesia.”
Travis told ABC News:
“When I was in the hospital, I was on so many drugs I didn’t even know my two friends had passed away,” he told ABC News. “I didn’t know the pilots had passed away. I didn’t remember anything.” “I kept thinking everyone was in the hospital, including the two pilots and including my best friends. I thought everyone was in different rooms until two weeks before I left. Then I went crazy. I wasn’t in a good place,” he added. “I was kind of crazy. I was suicidal.”
Travis became crazy for going out:
Travis was even willing to pay somebody $1 million to “take him out.” The star said: “I would call friends of mine and go, ‘I’ll deposit a million dollars into whoever’s bank account…’”
DJ AM’s death:
Things became harder following DJ AM’s death in August 2009, with Travis learning the sad news when he saw it on TV while in a recording studio. “I was in shock: I felt like there was a rock in my throat that I couldn’t swallow,” he said. “I felt like a piece of me had just died. I burst into tears and left the studio.”
Travis’s children helped him through suicidal thoughts:
Ultimately, it was Travis’s children that helped him through his suicidal thoughts. He is dad to Landon, now 18, and stepfather to Shanna’s daughter Atiana, now 23, as well as Alabama. “It was hard for them to see me in the state that I was in,” he said. “They’d color in class and everyone’s drawing pictures of their family or what they did over the weekend, and Landon’s drawing a picture of a plane crashing.” “Learning how to walk again and being able to take a shower by myself again, they were the good points that helped me turn a corner,” he added.
Travis also acknowledged his desire for his kids:
He acknowledged his desires for his kids to see his eventual triumph over his aversion to flying, which he accomplished last year despite having such severe PTSD that at one point he was unable to even walk down the street if he saw an aircraft in the sky.
His tweet about his travel:
He tweeted with pride in September that he had travelled five times in the previous month, visited Mexico, Italy, France, and New York with his future bride.
Alabama inspired by Travis’s bravery:
Alabama was also moved by Travis’s bravery, and she overcame her own fear of flying when she travelled to Mexico with him in November to mark his 46th birthday. And it’s reasonable to assume that her father is the one who truly appreciates how significant the travel to Alabama was.