ST. LOUIS — St. Louis musician Dave Grelle hasn’t lost his sense of humor, especially when it comes to his 4-year-old son.
“My son's friends are always like, why do you have a cane? He loves to tell them,” Grelle said, laughing. “He's like, ‘my dad got run over by some mean lady.”
On November 2, 2016, life was good for Grelle. He was on top of his game as one of St. Louis’ top keyboard musicians and his wife was nine months pregnant with their second child. Grelle recalls attempting to cross South Grand Boulevard while picking up food to take home.
“I remember looking both ways and I made it halfway through the crosswalk before for I got hit and I really don't remember getting hit.”
Devastating injuries led to a month long hospital stay for Grelle.
“Dozens of broken bones. I lacerated my liver, needed multiple blood transfusions. I've had multiple surgeries since,” said Grelle. “My recovery is a full time job basically. Physical therapy, acupuncture, yoga. You know, some of those are my choice, but they're the things that help me get out of bed in the morning.
"Your son's like, 'why can't you kick the soccer ball like the other dads?' That stuff's pretty heavy."
Eventually Michelle Conway pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. That night she drove off, leaving Grelle unconscious in the middle of the street. A good Samaritan stopped traffic to protect him.
“A young lady saw my body and stopped traffic prevented me from getting run over,” said Grelle.
By the time police arrived, Grelle was already on his way to the hospital in an ambulance. No victim, no driver, no investigation. It was up to Grelle’s very pregnant wife Kacey to become a hit-and-run detective.
“At nine months she still had it in her to track down the girl who ran me over,” said Grelle.
During a long recovery, including six months in a wheelchair, Grelle worried how the accident would affect his music career.
“Yeah, I was worried after the accident that I might not be able to play.”
In the latest chapter of his comeback story, local music fans will see for themselves Friday and Saturday night when Grelle is the bandleader for four performances at the Ferring Jazz Bistro. Grelle expects to be emotional.
“Seeing a lot of faces out in the audience of people that have really stepped up to support me and my family,” said Grelle.
“All the physical injuries have definitely taken their toll, but the mental side of things is the hardest, you know, when you're used to functioning at a certain level and it's just not there when you go for it. But I feel confident again.”
As for the woman who drove into him, then received probation, he said he rarely thinks about her.
“Karma in the world figures all that stuff out for us. I don't really think about it too much.”