Thirteen years after surviving a plane crash that killed four of the six people on board, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker is determined to get on a plane again for the first time since that day.
"I have to,” he told Men's Health. "I want to make the choice to try and overcome it."
“There’s a million things that could happen to me,” he said. “I could die riding my skateboard. I could get in a car accident. I could get shot. Anything could happen. I could have a brain aneurysm and die. So why should I still be afraid of airplanes?”
Barker, 45, also reflected on how the crash motivated him to stop abusing opioids and prescription drugs, even at the expense of suffering intense pain as he learned to walk and play drums again.
"People are always like, ‘Did you go to rehab?’ ” he told the magazine. “And I (say), ‘No, I was in a plane crash.’ That was my rehab. Lose three of your friends and almost die? That was my wake-up call. If I wasn’t in a crash, I would have probably never quit."
Barker said he flushed all his medications as he recovered from his injuries so that he wouldn't start abusing painkillers again. He had built up such a tolerance for opioids that he was even waking up during surgeries after the crash.
He has not gotten on a plane since a 2008 crash in Columbia, South Carolina. A private plane he boarded after playing a show skidded off the runway and burst into flames after striking an embankment. The two pilots were killed along with Barker's assistant and security guard.
The drummer survived despite suffering third-degree burns on 65% of his body. The only other survivor was Barker's good friend Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein, who helped save him following the crash. Less than a year later, Goldstein died of a drug overdose in 2009, leaving Barker as the only survivor of the crash.
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"I was dark,” he recalled. “I couldn’t walk down the street. If I saw a plane (in the sky), I was determined it was going to crash, and I just didn’t want to see it.”
He underwent 26 surgeries and multiple skin grafts over the course of three months, according to Men's Health. He went to therapy to deal with PTSD while also fearing he might never be able to play the drums again because of his physical condition.
"I was told I wasn’t going to run again because I had so many grafts on my feet, and there was even talk of me never playing the drums again,” he said. "As soon as I could walk, I could run. As soon as I could move my hands and my hands healed, I was playing drums. And now I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been."
Barker also cited his children, Landon, 17, and Alabama, 15, with ex-wife Shanna Moakler, as a motivating force in his recovery.
Every year the crash has receded into the past has also benefited Barker.
"I felt closer to the experience of trying to escape, (to) being in an accident and being burned, trying to grab my friends from a burning plane," he said. "That haunted me for a long time. And as long as I was closer to that than this good stuff, I was always thinking about that. Now it’s been so many years, it’s getting easier for me. There are days where I’ll wake up and never think about it."