Drive Time’s Tyler Jackson suffers brain aneurysm

Tyler Jackson, 24 year old banjoist with North Carolina-based bluegrass band, Drive Time, was stricken with a brain aneurysm over the weekend. The tragic news spread quickly over social media and rocked the bluegrass community.

The Buies Creek resident became ill Saturday evening, experiencing severe headache, nausea, and dizziness. EMS was dispatched and Tyler was transferred to Central Harnett Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a brain bleed.  

Air lifted to the Trauma Center at UNC Chapel Hill, Tyler was diagnosed with an aneurysm at the base of his brain. On Sunday, surgeons were able to insert a drain to relieve pressure, and attempted a catheter procedure to stop bleeding. Then on Monday, the young musician underwent successful surgery to eliminate the aneurysm.  

Following surgery, Ronnie Jackson, Tyler’s father, relayed. “Tyler has been back to his room and down to CT and back. Now they will do a neurological exam and resedate him. The risks, according to Dr. Sasaki-Adams, are stroke and swelling of the cerebellum. She said the cerebellum looked relaxed during surgery which was good.”

He is still in critical condition. Side effects include the possibility of stroke, swelling of the cerebellum, and other factors. Bluegrass fans from across the country and abroad have reached out with support. We, his parents, are most grateful for them, the skilled medical team, and an almighty God that has blessed us and Tyler in so many ways since Saturday. Prayer requests are still needed and very much appreciated. Prayer chains will need to be in place for days to come. We can’t thank everyone enough for the support, and like I said before, thank God for his grace and goodness and mercy. All things are possible through him.”

Drive Time’s mandolinist, Austin Koerner, stressed. “He is still critical. They will be watching him closely for any complications. He will be in Neuro ICU for 10 to 14 days. Continue to pray for Tyler that he may have a smooth and complete recovery.”

Former Sideline member, Bailey Coe, shared, “Tyler is one of my best friends, and like a brother to me. He and I have been playing music together for about eight years now. Not only is he one of the most talented banjo players I know, he is also one of the best men that I know as well.”

Attendees at this year’s Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver Bluegrass Festival held in Denton, NC in September, may remember this powerhouse band and the drive of Tyler’s banjo during their Saturday performance.

“Music may have introduced me to Tyler, but it’s definitely not the reason we became friends. He and his family are such loving, caring people who would do anything for anybody. I have never been anywhere with them, whether it be just Tyler or his whole family, that I didn’t feel welcomed and loved,” stated Katie Springer, Drive Time fiddler. “Tyler has told me multiple times that Philippians 4:13 is his favorite Bible verse. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ That has been very important to me these last few days. I believe his strength from Christ will see him through this.”

Drive Time band mate, Austyn Howell, concluded, “Something I always say on stage when I’m introducing Tyler is ‘he’s a fine banjo player and an even better man.’ I know that is sort of cliché sounding, but I’ve always meant it and I’ve never introduced anyone else that way. It doesn’t mean I haven’t played with other great humans, but Tyler has a big heart, and he loves to see people happy. He’d literally give you the shirt off his back, and really cares about how other people feel. He and his family are like family to me, and if you know Tyler or his folks….you’re pulling for them.”

Pray for Tyler Jackson.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.