Lance Gumbs, a leader of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, was in New Mexico at a gathering of nations when he got the phone call that his son, Awan J. Gumbs, 31, had been involved in the and injured two others early Saturday morning.
“When I got the phone call, they just said there had been an accident, and two people didn’t make it and that my son was in the car. I didn’t know who it was that had died,” he said. “It was the most excruciating thing I’ve ever gone through in my life.”
Gumbs said it took more than an hour before he learned that his son had survived, but with extensive injuries, including a broken back, leg, arms, hip and ribs; he also had to have plastic surgery on his face.
Of the two lives lost, Gumbs said Jason “Tek” King, 33, “was a tribal council leader — a promising young leader,” and Duane “D.L.” White, 22, was “getting his life in order,” and taking care of his responsibilities.
“It’s a tragic situation for our community,” he said.
Gumbs is eager to get home to his son, who, he said, is coherent and able to speak, but “in excruciating pain.” Being so far away from him at a time of tragedy, he added, “is devastating.”
Brian N. Bess Jr., 18, who was also badly hurt in the accident, suffered similar injuries as his son, Gumbs said.
Gumbs said he and others who are at the gathering in New Mexico are expected to fly home as soon as possible and be back sometime Sunday.
The , Gumbs said, needs to begin the healing process. “Our community will come together now, and we will stand with the families — because we are all a family. It wasn’t their sons, it was all of our sons.”
He added, “We’ll get through this together.”