Above: Adrenaline Mob 2017 (Mike Orlando is second from right).
It was a shock. An almost unfathomable tragedy. I was just walking into the Epiphone Guitars party at the Nashville Hard Rock Cafe during the summer NAMM show on July 14, when Bobby Cannon of the band Discordia sent me a text that our good friends in Adrenaline Mob were involved in a tour-bus accident.
Adrenaline Mob guitarist Mike Orlando was a finalist in Guitar Player's Guitar Superstar competition in 2008, and the staff was obviously very proud of how his career had taken off. We loved that Mike is one of those ceaselessly enthusiast people who lights up a room with his positivity and energy—even if his stage performances are so darn maniac and intense that he causes our nerve endings go into Defcon Five alerts every time we see him play.
It was unthinkable that something so terrible could happen to this incredibly upbeat guitarist and his band. But it did. The initial news reports were sad and awful.
The band had pulled its RV and a GMC Sierra pulling a gear tailer off the road on Interstate 75 near Micanopy, Florida, to fix a flat tire on the RV, when a big rig struck the vehicles. Of the nine people present in the Adrenaline Mob crew, bassist David Zablidowsky, 38, was killed, six were in either critical or serious condition, and two didn't require medical assistance.
We didn't know where Mike factored into the initial reports until now. He was kind enough to send the following message to his friends and fans at Guitar Player:
"I want to start by thanking all of the GP community who have reached out and sent their thoughts and prayers towards me and everyone in the Adrenaline Mob band and crew," he writes. "I'm truly taken aback by all of the wonderful support from our music community and beyond. We were involved in a truly horrific crash while on tour that took the life of our dear friend, bandmate and bassist David Zablidowsky. Three other crew members were also critically injured, and four others suffered serious injuries. It's a week or so later, and, to be quite honest, I'm still trying to process it all. It has been a complete nightmare. Again, thank you all for reaching out and caring, as those who are still fighting this horrible tragedy need all the thoughts and prayers they can to pull through and begin healing. And thank you to my good friend Michael Molenda for reaching out and giving me the opportunity to thank the GP Community. God bless."
Police reports state that Mike was the only passenger in the GMC Sierra, and while he didn't detail all of his injuries, he suffered broken ribs. Drummer Jordan Cannata was driving the GMC, and was seriously injured at the time, but is apparently out of the hospital, as are RV passengers Russell Allen and Robert Dressler.
Adrenaline Mob tour manager Janet Rains is still in the hospital with second- and third-degree burns over 62-percent of her body. RV driver Jason McCole and passenger Dale Campiglia are also remaining in the hospital with back injuries.
Robert Edwin Haines, the driver of the big rig — which was carrying cooking oil from Atlanta to Orlando — was not injured.
Adrenaline Mob vocalist Russell Allen had previously thanked fans on Facebook the day after the accident: "Yesterday I was involved in an accident that took the life of my dear friend and bandmate David Z and left three of our crew in critical condition. I'm overwhelmed with sorrow. I am so grateful for the outpouring of love we have received from around the world. Please continue to pray for David's family during this difficult time. And those in critical condition. I want to personally thank Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick Dumon for his bravery in assisting me pull our driver Jason [McCole] from the wreckage and for attending to his wounds. And for helping me to secure and attend to Jane [tour manager Janet Rains, a.k.a. Jane Train] once I was able to get her free from the fire. Without his selfless act of courage, I would not have been able to get them clear of the RV before it was engulfed in flames. On behalf of my band and crew, I thank you."