DJ AM called himself “the luckiest man alive” in his first interview after surviving a tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of four others and left DJ AM and rocker Travis Barker severely burned.
In the Oct. 27 issue of People, DJ AM (whose real name is Adam Goldstein) opened up on the horror of the Sept. 19 crash and his recovery.
“When the plane was on the runway I took my shoes off and fell asleep. The next thing I remember is us crashing into something,” he said. “I woke up to Travis screaming and the plane engulfed in flames. I remember thinking it was like ‘Miami Vice,’ where a car is on fire and you run before the gas tank explodes — we gotta get out of here!”
“Travis jerked upon the door and slid on his butt down a wing that was on fire. I tried to cover my face as I jumped through a fireball. As soon as I hit the ground, I remembered ‘Stop, drop and roll,’ so I started rolling,” he continued.
After putting out his own flames, he helped Barker, burning himself further in the process.
“My eyebrows and layers of skin were burned off my face,” he said. “My forehead was gouged and my arm had skin hanging off. I was in shock and didn’t feel anything.”
Still, he was worried about the rest of the plane’s passengers — pilots Sarah Lemmon and James Bland, and Barker’s employees and friends, Chris Baker and Charles Still, who were better known as Lil’ Chris and Che. But before he could see them, he was whisked away in an ambulance.
“In the ambulance I was in so much pain,” he said. “It sounds weird, but they turn the heat on full blast so your body doesn’t go into hypothermia. On burns that’s excruciating. Still… I kept thinking, ‘Where are Lil’ Chris and Che?’”
After a stay in an Augusta, Ga. hospital, he returned to L.A., where he was able to see the extent of his injuries.
“I asked a doctor for a mirror to see myself. The bandages were like a ski mask,” he said. “But I thought, I’ll be OK. I didn’t think, ‘I’ll be disfigured for life.’ I wasn’t too concerned with myself.”
And thanks to skin transplants from his scalp and hours in a hyperbaric chamber, the DJ says he’s recovering and ready to head out on tour with Jay-Z (he will make his professional return on Wednesday night alongside the hip-hop star at the Los Angeles Palladium).
“He’s the greatest rapper in the world,” DJ AM previously told People about Jay-Z. “This is the biggest thing that’s happened in my career.”
While he won’t fly in a small plane again, he’s beginning to get past the trauma of the tragic accident.
“I had a nightmare that someone spilled fuel on me and was trying to light me on fire,” he said. “I woke up and thought, ‘Oh my God, this is going to happen forever.’ I called my therapist and told her the nightmare. I haven’t had one since.”
It’s been an emotional time for DJ AM, who said he’s learned to appreciate the people around him — many of whom showed up to a five-hour benefit concert at the Avalon in L.A. on Tuesday night that welcomed him home.
“I always said I have 1,000 acquaintances and very few friends. I thought people aren’t there if you need them. Now I realize I have 1,000 friends who’ve been there for me,” he said. “I am blessed.”