Car accidents take the lives of Americans every single day, but there are often stories of great bravery that end positively. Many celebrities, for one reason or another, have been involved in gruesome, horrible accidents on the road that taught them the value of their own lives. Some celebrities were on tour buses or in a limo, going home from one of their many engagements when traffic took a turn and other cars crashed into them. Other celebrities on this list were driving recklessly and caused damage, in some cases even death, to those that were involved in the crash.
It can be absolutely devastating to the career of an actor or dancer to be in an accident where they incur bodily or neural brain injuries. In some of these tragic stories a singer is paralyzed or an actor must spend months, even years, learning basic motor functions. More than anything this list of Hollywood stars driving double the speed limit or driving off of the side of the highway reminds everyone to follow the laws of the road. No matter the circumstances the best way to avoid a detrimental accident is to go the speed limit and stay aware of all of our surroundings.
15. Tracy Morgan
In 2014 Tracy Morgan was in a gruesome car crash while riding in a limo bus on the New Jersey Turnpike. The entire bus overturned during the accident that occurred around one in the morning. The entire accident involved a total of six vehicles including two tractor trailers and an SUV along with the limo bus. Traffic slowed on the turnpike and a tractor trailer behind the limo bus didn’t notice until he’d already crashed into the back of the limo that carried Tracy Morgan and 6 others. One of Morgan’s comedy writers was killed in the crash, Jimmy Mack was only 62 years old. Morgan was in critical condition following the crash, he was hospitalized and remained unconscious for some time. The actor and comedian broke several parts of his body and underwent extensive rehabilitation. Two of the other people in the limo bus were in critical condition as well. The driver of the initial truck was charged for causing the fatal car crash.
14. Niki Taylor
Supermodel Niki Taylor was at the height of her career in 2001 when her friend looked down at his cell phone while driving and ran off the road. The car hit a utility pole which put the supermodel in critical condition in the hospital. Immediately after the crash Taylor’s doctor released that it would be weeks before they knew if she would be able to recover from the liver damage she had incurred. Since the model was wearing her seatbelt and in turn not thrown from the car, initially everyone thought that she was okay. However, she soon experienced abdominal pain and was admitted to the hospital where they found some massive internal injuries. Neither drugs nor alcohol played a factor in this accident and the driver was ticketed but ultimately released. It took more than 40 operations for Taylor to start on her road to recovery but she still faces physical limitations.
13. Dennis Rodman
On July 20 in 2016 at 12:30 am Dennis Rodman was driving North down the southbound carpool lane of the busy 5 freeway. This negligent driving forced a sedan to swerve into the dividing wall to avoid a collision. Rodman was charged in the Fall of 2016 not only with driving across a dividing section but also driving without a license and for giving police false information. Rodman’s lawyer, Paul Meyer, says that the fault lies with those who so horribly labeled the exit ramps. If convicted Dennis Rodman could have faced up to two years in jail. Rodman, who sometimes lives in Newport Beach, settled with the other car outside of court under the stipulation that she will not share her story with the media. Those who were with Rodman the night of the accident say that everything started after a wild evening at The Velvet Lounge in downtown Santa Ana.
12. Brandy Norwood
Just before New Year’s Eve in 2006 Brandy was driving on the 405 in Los Angeles when she was involved in a fatal car crash. One of the other drivers was a mother of two, the 38 year old died from incurred injuries on NYE. The young R&B singer lost control of her Range Rover and struck the side of the young mother’s Toyota Corolla. Brandy stated that another car cut her off, causing her to veer into the other lane. After the investigation the California Highway Patrol (CHP) recommended the singer be tried for misdemeanor manslaughter but prosecutors cited insufficient evidence and didn’t bring a case against her. The singer has been sued by multiple members of the young mother’s family and actually countersued in this long, drawn-out saga. Brandy has paid out at least $300,000, but likely much more, to the family of the victim since the 2006 crash.
11. Luther Vandross
As one of the sweetest voices of the ‘80s Luther Vandross was beloved by the world. In the Winter of 1986 the car Vandross was driving swerved out of control. One passenger was killed, four others were injured. The three car crash happened while Vandross was driving north on Laurel Canyon Blvd. near Ventura Blvd. In the accident Vandross’ Mercedes crossed the double yellow line, flipped on its side and crashed into two cars going the opposite direction. Due to the singer’s excessive speed police filed a recommendation with the district attorney’s office that Vandross should be charged with felony manslaughter. The R&B singer was driving 50 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone. Vandross was treated for broken ribs, cuts, and bruises while others were treated and stayed in fair condition until their release. The DA eventually rejected the charges of felony manslaughter on the basis that more evidence was needed.
10. Halle Berry
In the decade between 1997 and 2007 Halle Berry was in three notable car accidents but the 2000 accident was by far the worst. On February 23, 2000 Halle Berry allegedly hit a woman’s car in West Hollywood before driving away. She went straight home and then 90 minutes later to the hospital, the next morning the A-list star reported the accident to police. The woman that Berry hit, Hetal Raythatha, sued her for “gross negligence” and “tortuous infliction of emotional distress” claiming that the star was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The police followed up with an investigation of the accident and stated that there was absolutely no drugs or alcohol present in Halle Berry’s system at the time of the accident. Either way she was guilty of leaving the scene of the crime, something that will follow her forever. Her last accident took place in 2007 when she says paparazzi caused her to crash her vehicle.
9. Little Richard
As one of the most flamboyant singers in rock and roll at his time Little Richard was used to being in the headlines. But in 1985 Little Richard crashed his Nissan 300ZX into a light post in West Hollywood, suffering injuries that landed him in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The singer, who was 52-years-old at the time, bruised his ribs and head as well as breaking his leg. The accident occurred at 12:05 am while Little Richard was driving 60 miles per hour in on Santa Monica Boulevard where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour. The crash happened at Curson Ave. No drugs or alcohol were found in his system but the singer was driving with a suspended license and faced being charged with negligent driving. Doctor’s say that he was lucky to survive the accident and rebuilt his fractured leg with a steel rod in his right thigh bone.
8. Padma Lakshmi
When the Top Chef host was only 14-years-old she was hospitalized for a sensitivity to certain medications which was eventually called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Two days after being released from the hospital Lakshmi was in a car accident in Malibu, California. She wrote a personal essay for Vogue that it was her family’s red Ford Mercury sedan that flew off the freeway, falling 40 feet into the embankment. Her right arm was shattered and her right hip was fractured in the accident. She eventually regained the use of both her hip and her arm but was left with a rather large scar measured ½ and inch wide and seven inches long. The star used to try and hide the scar even going so far as undergoing laser treatments to lighten it, but she’s no longer ashamed of it. The star refuses to cover it for television and considers the scar a part of her history.
7. Arnold Schwarzenegger
In the Winter season of 2006 Arnold Schwarzenegger was driving his Harley Davidson motorcycle out with his son Patrick in the sidecar. Right near their Brentwood Los Angeles home when another car backed into the motorcycle, luckily at a very low speed. Both Arnold and his son Patrick went to the hospital to be treated for minor scratches and bruises before being sent home the same day. This small scrape was nothing compared to the motorcycle accident the Governor experienced in 2001. In his 2001 motorcycle crash Schwarzenegger suffered multiple broken ribs and a punctured lung. All reports played the incident off as a “minor” crash but most media outlets believe that the Austrian-born action star was in worse shape than his publicity team would let on. At the time Schwarzenegger was best known for his roles as The Terminator and in films like True Lies but now we know him better for his sex scandals and work in the California government.
6. Morgan Freeman
In 2008 Morgan Freeman was driving a 1997 Nissan Maxima at 11:30 at night when his car veered off of the highway and flipped over several times. Freeman, 71, and his passenger had to be cut from the vehicle and airlifted to a hospital in Memphis more than 100 miles from the site of the crash. His passenger, Demaris Meyer, was widely known as Freeman’s girlfriend during the separation with his wife. The Nissan that Freeman was driving in the accident was Meyer’s car, and months after the crash she sued Freeman for negligence. In her lawsuit Demaris Meyer was represented by Gloria Allred and cited that Freeman failed to keep a proper lookout, maintain attention, keep the vehicle under control, and follow the speed limit. She sued the actor for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, permanent disability, and property damage. The star eventually settled but details about the settlement were never divulged.
5. Gary Busey
It was in 1989 that Gary Busey almost died in a motorcycle crash that resulted in two hours of neurosurgery. The crash occurred after Busey took a right turn too wide, sliding in gravel, and then applying his rear brake fishtailing the Harley Davidson. After the bike slammed into the curb Busey was thrown over the windshield where his skull hit the same curb at least four times. Doctors had to remove blood clots that were left between his skull and his brain after the accident, this was due to the fact that the actor was not wearing a helmet. Despite this almost fatal accident Busey still refuses to wear a helmet. His family urges him to wear a helmet while riding, even if he does go much slower than before, but Busey says it just doesn’t feel right. He claims that with a helmet on he can’t see or hear what’s going on around him.
4. Rachel Bilson
Rachel Bilson said she liked to live on the edge until an almost fatal car crash put her in a coma for three days. She was just 14 years old when driving with friends down the Pacific Coast Highway in California. The head on collision was so horrific that Bilson had to be cut from the car. After waking up from her coma three days after the accident Bilson didn’t remember the crash, and she hopes that it can remain that way. When The O.C. first hit television screens Bilson was 21 years old, which she cites as a reason that she was able to deal with such fast fame. Her costar Mischa Barton was not so lucky and the 16 year old fell fast into partying before her career came to a complete stop. Bilson still works on popular TV shows but does admit that she’s always wanted to be a rapper.
3. Teddy Pendergrass
Teddy Pendergrass was one of the hottest soul singers of the early ‘80s until he was in a near-fatal car crash in 1982. Pendergrass was driving his Rolls-Royce in Philadelphia when he lost control of the vehicle. The tragic accident left the singer and dancer paralyzed from the chest down, stopping his career in its tracks. Pendergrass was said to be in the car with a mysterious woman who was never found, until 2014. The stories always alleged that Pendergrass was in a relationship with the woman in the car but in reality, the pair had just met. The woman remembers Pendergrass fondly but the pair were just beginning their friendship when the intense accident ended all of that. The singer has since founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance which helps those that suffer from spinal cord injuries. After living with his injury for 25 years Teddy Pendergrass was honored with a celebration of his life at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center.
2. Gloria Estefan
By 1990 Gloria Estefan was at the height of her career dancing and singing her way into the hearts across the world. That year while Gloria and the Miami Sound Machine were traveling through snow covered Pocono Mountains a truck slid and hit the bus right in the back bumper. Esteban, five members of the band, and the bus driver were taken to the hospital to be treated for various injuries. Estefan’s husband and son both suffered injuries, and Gloria herself suffered a spinal cord injury. Her rehabilitation from this injury was tedious and took quite a long time. When the bus was hit Gloria knew her back was broken because of the searing pain in her spine and her husband had literally been knocked right out of his shoes. The accident didn’t only rob us of more Gloria Estefan, it made it hard for Gloria and her husband Emilio to conceive as her doctors were worried that her back couldn’t handle the weight of pregnancy.
1. Mariska Hargitay
This Law and Order: SVU star was well known as a child as well, because she is the youngest daughter of Jayne Mansfield. Mansfield was one of America’s original pinups and when she was just 34 years old the actress was in a fatal car crash. Their friend was driving and Jayne and her beau Sam Brody along with three of her children were in the car. Mariska was asleep in the back seat at the time of the accident. All three children were injured but they survived. Despite this tragic tale of loss, Hargitay made a name for herself in Hollywood with extensive work on Law and Order. Hargitay doesn’t often open up about her mother or the accident but the spirit of Mansfield lives on in the powerful performances of the NBC actress. More recently Hargitay has enjoyed sharing images of her mother on popular social sites like Instagram.