KAILUA-KONA — With a smile on his face and surrounded by jovial family, friends and fans, it was hard to tell that just a short time ago, Keikilani Lindsey was fighting for his life.
“It’s amazing. It’s a miracle.”
Frankie Atkinson’s words to describe Lindsey’s recovery from a serious car crash are being repeated often lately by Lindsey’s loved ones. The June 28 crash had left the Hawaii Island musician in critical condition for months at a hospital in Loveland, Colorado, with those closest to him clinging to the small hope he would make it.
Now out of his hospital bed and back on the island, Lindsey was officially welcomed home at a gathering Wednesday night at Gertrude’s Jazz Bar. Other musicians, such as Atkinson, as well as Lindsey’s family and close family friends were there to celebrate his recovery.
“It’s a miracle and there’s no doubt in my mind that God was with him. We were not ready for him to go; he’s got more to do,” said Lynda Griebrok, a longtime family friend.
While the party consisted mostly of people who have known Lindsey for years, the support Lindsey received immediately after the crash was not limited to just those who were close to him. His cousin, Karen Rose, created a GoFundMe page for his medical fund, which currently sits at $54,392 from donations made through the site, and a sold out benefit concert was held at Gertrude’s in July for the same effort.
“It’s overwhelming,” Lindsey said. “I had no idea I was news all the way out here in Hawaii. And in Colorado, they advertised it in the news there, too. I figured I had a lot of friends, but no where near the amount I came to know. And the amount of support is just mind-blowing.”
The musician arrived back on the island two weeks ago, and said what he missed most was Hawaiian food and being able to go to the beach. He is focusing on rehabilitation with physical and speech therapy, and also wears an eyepatch over one eye to help his focus and vision.
Lindsey said he has not been able to play guitar yet, but the doctors have assured him the ability will come back.
“The next record is half written,” Lindsey said. “But I’m not able to play right now, which is unnerving.”
Lindsey and his sons, Leo and Kaneala, make up the popular Hawaii Island-based band Meleuhane. The three of them were driving through Wyoming on their way to perform at a concert in June when the crash happened. The trailer attached to the back of their car came unhitched, and the car flipped six times, ejecting Lindsey from the vehicle.
Lindsey suffered from collapsed lungs, internal bleeding, broken ribs and a broken pelvis during the crash, and went into cardiac arrest while being flown from the crash site to the hospital in Colorado.
His sons sustained minor injuries in the crash, and Lindsey said both fully recovered and are doing well.
“They were both buckled in, and I’m glad for their safety,” Lindsey said. “And I will definitely be wearing a seat belt from now on.”
Staying with Lindsey in the hospital was his mother, Karen Lindsey. She was emotional as she described what it was like seeing her son near death.
“In my head, I could just hear him saying, ‘Mom, don’t give up on me.’”
Karen Lindsey said the doctors they have worked with have been amazed at his recovery. She’s been amazed, too, at the support and love Keikilani Lindsey has received from not just Hawaii Island, but all over the country.
“I think the first two weeks, I cried because of all of the aloha that came from all over the United States, not just Hawaii,” Karen Lindsey said. “He had touched so many people’s lives.”
Griebrok said it’s Keikilani Lindsey’s personality that shines through his music and has garnered him so many fans.
“When he sings, it’s like he’s talking to you and I think we all sense that,” Griebrok said. “He puts himself out there and is kind to everybody; he’s fun and we love him.”