Travis Barker Says He’s ‘Thankful To Be Alive’ In First Post-Crash Interview

'I am doing the best I can possibly be,' drummer says of recovery.

Travis Barker said he’s “thankful to be alive” after the plane crash in Columbia, South Carolina, last month that killed four people and seriously injured him and DJ AM. The former drummer opens up about the accident in the new issue of Us Weekly.

“I hate planes,” he said. “My biggest fear ever is to be involved in a plane crash, so when that happened … well, I’m just thankful to be alive! I’m just grateful to be here at all.” Barker then choked up a bit, the mag said.

Barker left a hospital in Georgia last week and returned to Los Angeles via bus with his father and his ex-wife, Shanna Moakler. Just days before, DJ AM had been released from the hospital and is currently recovering at home. The crash killed Barker’s assistant, Chris Baker, and his bodyguard, Charles Still, as well as the plane’s two crew members.

Barker is currently at the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles, where he is receiving treatment for second- and third-degree burns.

“I am doing the best I can possibly be. I’m so anxious to get out of here,” the 32-year-old drummer said. “I was in Georgia at the hospital over there and was scared to death to even get on an airplane again, so I had Shanna and my father come out and meet me and we took a bus back to L.A. I’ve just been in surgery after surgery. I have third-degree burns basically from my feet up to my waist and both hands. One of my hands has second-degree burns and one has third-degree burns.”

Barker said he’s anxious to spend more time with his and Moakler’s children, Landon, 5, and Alabama, 2. “Shanna brought them down a couple times, but not on the basis that I normally would [see them],” he said. “Normally I wake up with them at six in the morning and take them to school. I’m just taking this one day at a time and listening to all the doctors’ orders.”

One big change that Barker has made since the accident is changing his diet. He’s broken with his vegetarian regimen in the interest of helping his recovery. “Because I was a vegetarian, for my first three surgeries, it was hard to get any of my grafts to take to my real skin,” he said. “I have such low levels of protein. I need protein from food rather than just protein supplements. I changed my diet. I would do anything I possibly could [to get better]. They said, ‘There’s a possibility you might heal faster if you do eat meat or just change your eating habits.’ So I did. I don’t regret it at all, because I feel so much better!”

The change may already be having a positive effect on his recovery. “I just got out of surgery maybe an hour ago,” he said. “They took pieces from my back and pieces of skin from my thighs and they grafted them onto my feet, my heels and my right forearm and it actually stuck!”

Asked about reports that earlier surgery was not as successful, Barker said, “It was a misunderstanding. I woke up from my surgery with no pain medication at one point! Imagine how that would feel! But the doctors here are amazing.”

As for how much longer he might be in the hospital, Barker optimistically said it shouldn’t be more than two weeks if all goes well. “I hope not much longer. I sit here and read books and watch TV,” he said. “I have had outstanding support from my family and friends. Shanna has been here as much as she could be. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Not only is he optimistic about his recovery, but Barker is ready to get back to work, and most importantly his family. “I can’t wait to get to work on my record. I lost one of my best friends in this crash,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back to writing and expressing myself, get back into the swing of things. I have so much stuff just jumbled in my head right now. I can’t wait!

“I’m trying to have a quick recovery and play the drums again and be able to hold my kids again,” he added.

If you’d like more information on the memorial funds set up to benefit Chris Baker’s and Charles Still’s families, visit the Famous Stars and Straps Web site.