Deftones bassist Chi Cheng, who has been in a semi-conscious state since a 2008 car accident, died early Saturday morning at the age of 42, a family statement announced.
In a statement posted on the fan site Oneloveforchi.com, Chi Cheng’s family writes that the musician was taken to the emergency room where he died at 3 a.m.
“He left this world with me singing songs he liked in his ear,” wrote Jeanne Marie Cheng, or “Mom J” for short.
Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno confirmed Chi Cheng’s passing on his Facebook page.
Chi Cheng suffered major injuries and was left in a coma following a November 2008 car crash in Santa Clara, California. The bassist was driving with his sister when they collided with another car, sending his vehicle rolling. He was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. His sister was wearing hers, and only sustained minor injuries.
“Chi is one of the strongest people I know, and I’m praying that his strength will get him through this,” Chino Moreno said at the time on the Deftones’ blog.
In the years since, Chi Cheng had been making slow but steady progress in his recovery. In 2009 it was reported that he was no longer in a coma but in a semi-conscious state. In 2010, doctors said the former bassist was “showing signs of improved neuro function”. Recently Chi Cheng regained limited ability to move his legs on command.
Most updates regarding Chi Cheng since his accident have come through the Oneloveforchi site, which was started by fan Gina Blackmore. The site, which is currently down likely due to increased traffic, has raised money for Chi Cheng’s medical expenses and the bassist’s family regularly posts messages there.
Chi Cheng co-founded Deftones in the late 1980s with fellow Sacramentoans Chino Moreno, Stephen Carpenter and Abe Cunningham. He was an integral part of the nu-metal band’s success, performing on their first five albums, released between 1994 and 2006. Commercially the group peaked in 2000 with the platinum-selling White Pony, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and contained the hit Change (In the House of Flies). A self-titled follow-up in 2003 debuted at No. 2.
In late 2008, Deftones were putting the finishing touches on the next full-length album, titled Eros.
Following Chi Cheng’s accident, Deftones ultimately decided to shelve the project and later recruited Sergio Vega, formerly of Quicksand, to play bass. They have released two albums since.