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1/04/2007

Vehicles of Dashboard Pianist, Air Drummer in Deadly Crash

Automobile crash in ToledoLeft: Both vehicles totaled, two drivers dead in mishap

(Toledo, OH) Toledo police responded to a fatal auto accident involving drivers who, witnesses say, were performing imaginary instruments just prior to the crash.

Killed in the wreck were Josh Gibbons, 24, of Toledo and Patrick Rensslear, 21, of Maumee, and both men were driving the vehicles involved.

"It happened so fast - one second Josh was jamming on the dashboard piano to the Ben Folds song 'Brick,' and the next second we hit this red car," sobbed Jennifer Niles, a passenger in the backseat who escaped without serious injury. "It's such a tragedy, especially to lose someone so young with so much talent."

Rensslear, according to a passenger in his vehicle, had just launched into the frenetic drum work on The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" when the accident occurred.

"Pat had Keith Moon's moves down perfect - even the high hat," said Owen Fitzhugh from his hospital bed. "It was just after the last chorus, when Roger Daltry is screaming 'LOVE!' I was doing the Pete Townshend guitar windmills, Pat was doing those insane drum rolls, and then 'BAM!' Lights out, man."

Left: Air drummer Rensslear in a 2005 competition

Both men have performed in contests for air instruments. Rensslear won the 2005 Air Drummist Rolloff in Los Angeles, while Gibbons has been a regular participant in the US Air Guitar World Championships, although he never took home a trophy. Fitzhugh said the double tragedy was a "terrible loss" to the area's entertainment scene.

"I grew up worshipping both of these visionary air musicians," he said, looking out the hospital window as tears welled up in his eyes. "These guys could never be replaced, and the Toledo music community will never be the same again."

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