UPDATE: They Might Be Giants Guitarist Badly Injured in City Crash, Driver Arrested

John Flansburgh (left with bandmate John Linnell) was badly injured in a crash on Wednesday night. Photo: TMBG
John Flansburgh (left with bandmate John Linnell) was badly injured in a crash on Wednesday night. Photo: TMBG

Youth culture killed his dog, but car culture is definitely implicated in this injury.

Guitarist John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants was badly injured in a “rather serious” car crash while “on his way home” from Wednesday night’s return to the stage from a lengthy pandemic hiatus at the Bowery Ballroom on Delancey Street, the band said in a statement on Thursday.

Flansburgh, who formed the quirky duo with John Linnell in the early-1980s, broke seven ribs in the crash. Later on Thursday, Flansburgh posted a long explanation on the band’s Instagram page that left out many details (but, in typical Flansburgh fashion, was quirkily accompanied by his new world view):

Photo: John Flansburgh via Instagram
Photo: John Flansburgh via Instagram

Greetings from the hospital. I am writing to you with my glasses a crumpled memory, while under a thick cloud of pain medication. In spite of that, I wanted to write to all of you to explain what exactly happened to me.

Last night [Wednesday] in a car service on the way my to my apartment after the magnificent Bowery Ballroom show, I was in a rather dramatic car accident. Crossing into an intersection, our car was T-boned by a vehicle going at a very fast speed. The force of the impact actually flipped our car over to its side. While the driver and I oriented ourselves to our new sideways, broken glass and airbag-filled reality, we sensed the ominous smell of motor oil and smoke. Remarkably, just a moment later it seemed, a dozen NYC firemen arrived and set their minds on finding a way to liberate us. To them and the fantastically efficient EMS who whisked us to a trauma center, I will be forever grateful.

While sitting in the CT scan machine, I was working out how much more time I would need to get to D.C. for the next show in my diminished state. When I explained my plan to the doctor, he explained I had broken seven ribs (a majority of the ribs on my right side) and some of them in multiple places, and I wasn’t going to be anywhere but in a bed for the foreseeable future.

While the pain in my side has only gotten worse since, it is my heart that is really breaking over these events. The entire band and crew have been working so hard to create a new show worthy of your interest and your endurance over these miserable COVID years. Last night was such a victory, and with unplayed new songs in the works and rearrangements of older material with the horn section, it was all feeling like a new beginning. But today I am in the hospital. I would understand anyone thinking we are just a band born under a bad sign and giving up hope, but I also know someday we will rock again — and for me, that day couldn’t come soon enough.

Until then I will be watching reruns of “Sex in the City” [sic] until I am strong enough to reach the remote. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

It is unclear why Flansburgh used the term “accident” in a description of a car crash that cops described involving a drunk driver (it is unclear if Flansburgh knew his car was hit by a drunk driver). And other details, such as the condition of Flansburgh’s driver or the location of the crash, were not initially included. Streetsblog reached out to the band’s reps, who responded, “Appreciate your interest, however we are going to politely pass.”

The Daily News reported on Friday that cops arrested the driver of a 2016 Honda that T-boned the car in which Flansburgh was traveling near the corner of Park Avenue and 102nd Street for drunk driving. Police identified that driver as William Mota, 26, of the Bronx.

Per the Daily News report, Mota “blew past a red light before slamming into Flansburgh’s Ford. He tried to fight off responding police as he was rushed to Metropolitan Hospital with minor injuries. A 21-year-old riding with him suffered an injury to her knee and was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where she was treated and released. Cops charged Mota with drunk driving, resisting arrest and refusing to take a Breathalyzer test.”

Everyone’s your friend in New York City, but through June 5 of this year, there have been 41,772 reported crashes (roughly 270 per day), injuring 1,542 cyclists, 3,495 pedestrians and 13,644 motorists.

Flansburgh’s crash is the second high-profile collision that serious wounded a New York icon yet were seen by the victims as something that just happens as part of normal life. In March, Met slugger Pete Alonso was injured when his SUV was T-boned in Florida, but media coverage and Alonso himself downplayed the ferocity of the collision, the frequency of such nearly fatal crashes and that they are, in fact, not just “accidents.”

Update: After initial publication of this story, some language was changed to reflect that Flansburgh wrote his hospital bed post before he learned some details of the crash.

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