The surviving friends and members of the rock band Gotthard have spoken for the first time publicly about the accident that killed frontman Steve Lee.
Lee’s longtime partner, Brigitte Voss-Balzerini, said she had been standing next to the singer just five seconds before a tractor-trailer truck lost control on a Nevada motorway and crashed into a group of parked motorcycles, one of which then hit Lee.
Lee and a group of 20 friends had been on a motorcycle tour of the American west. They had stopped on the shoulder of Interstate 15 near the Utah state line to don rain gear when the tragedy struck on October 5.
Voss-Balzerini said she turned around just as the force of the impact sent Lee flying through the air. She said the pressure knocked her down and a motorcycle hurtling by nearly crushed her legs.
“I don’t know if the air pressure or Steve’s soul saved me,” the former Miss Switzerland was quoted as saying in the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper.
Lee, 47, was standing in the middle of the group and was the only one hit. He died on the spot—a “brutal, inexplicable and absurd” accident, said Marc Lynn, Gotthard bassist.
Afterward, Voss-Balzerini said Lee’s back felt abnormally soft and limp, leading her to believe he would have been paralysed had he survived. “It was good for him that he was able to go after such an accident,” she said.
Voss-Balzerini said she forgave the truck driver, a 27-year-old man from Illinois, and gave him a hug.
As for the band’s future, no one had made any decisions yet, Lynn said. “It’s a bad blow for our group,” he said.
Gotthard is one of Switzerland’s most successful rock bands. The group’s last 11 albums have all charted at number one.
A public funeral for Lee, from canton Ticino, is planned on the Gotthard pass on Sunday.
swissinfo.ch and agencies