(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Warning: This story is intended for mature audiences only.
That warning may be a little extreme, but Jake Owen‘s detailed account of what happened during his July 7 go-cart accident is pretty gruesome. Up until now, all Owen has done is post a few pictures on Twitter and thanked fans for the well wishes. But I wanted details, so I asked him some specific questions when he was in Chicago for Jason Aldean‘s Saturday night (July 20) show at Wrigley Field.
As you’ll see, one of his primary concerns involved his infant daughter, Pearl.
CMT.com: How did the accident happen?
Owen: I flipped a go-cart. I was at my buddy’s party, and we were just riding go-carts at the end of the night on a little race track in North Carolina. Those things are fast. They top out at 70, but I was only doing about 40 when I flipped it. It was just a very, very random thing. Things like that just happen to me.
What was your first thought after you realized you’d been in an accident?
Well, I was coming around this corner, and I spun it and I flipped it and I rolled it. I landed, and then I was like, ‘What the … ?’ I had a full racing jacket on, helmet, gloves and everything. But I just stood up, and everybody was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa.’ Because they saw me flip on my head and then flip back over. So I was like, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine.’ But then I was like, ‘God, my hand hurts.’ Then I looked at my hand and the glove was just disintegrated. After seeing that, I was in shock.
Were you just happy to be alive?
All I thought was, ‘Am I gonna be OK for my wife and my little girl?’ I don’t care about my hand. I don’t. Nobody has come up to me and been like, ‘Hey, man. Sorry to hear about your hand. I bet it sucks that you can’t hold your baby right now.’ Everyone’s more like, ‘I bet that sucks you can’t play guitar.’ I can’t even hold Pearl right now. That’s the worst part about it. I could care less about guitar.
What did they do for you that night in the hospital?
At the ER in North Carolina, they just sewed it up. But then I flew home the next morning and went to the doctor, and I had surgery right away. They basically put my fingers back on. I have 40 stitches, from the interior out. I shattered my fingers — the bones inside. The doctor said it was like taking a cinderblock and dropping it on your hand. Like it spider webbed the bones inside my fingers. So he had to suture the bones back up to even make it a bone and then put a screw in there to keep it together.
How bad does it hurt?
It kills. It hurts like crazy. My first show back after it was when we played Boston. All I could think about was, ‘I’m not about to bail on Boston, a city where people just lost arms and legs and from this coward [expletive] bomber.’ I thought that if those people are Boston strong, then I’m gonna be Boston strong. It’s a just a finger. If you lose a finger, you can still sing. You still have the ability to make a living. But some of those people will never walk again because of something that wasn’t even their fault. Mine was self-inflicted. So I’m an idiot. It’s my fault.
I don’t know the prognosis. The doctors don’t know the prognosis. Until it heals — maybe in eight more weeks — we won’t know. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to bend my fingers the same, which is weird because I like to play golf. There are so many things I wanna do — hold Pearl, golf, play guitar. I can’t even go on my boat. I mean, I can float around, but I like to surf. But mostly, I just want to hold Pearl.