Even minor car accidents are pretty terrible, so just think how horrible major accidents are. Luckily most of us get to avoid them. But there are a lot of celebrities out there who have been in a wide variety of accidents. Some of them have been passengers when an accident was caused by someone else, some of them were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and some of them were negligent and ended up hurting or even killing people. Each of these celebrities has spoken out different amounts about how the crash has affected them, but learning about what they figured out after the crash can be pretty inspiring. Even when the story is rough, it's a good reminder to drive more carefully all the time and never to take your eyes off the road. Here are 15 celebrities who you didn't know were involved in serious car accidents.
In 1973, Stevie Wonder was involved in a serious crash while his cousin was driving. They hit the back of a flatbed truck and Stevie was left with some serious head injuries. Those injuries permanently took away his sense of smell and temporarily his sense of taste as well. He had been sleeping at the time of the crash and was only 23-years-old when it happened. He said, “It was on 6 August that I almost died in that car accident." It was a key date for another reason. Stevie has spoken out about how lucky he is to have recovered as well as the significance of the date that the car crash took place. He continued, “It was also on 6 August – 1988 – that my son Kwame was born. Life is funny. It is significant. I was blessed to come out of it. God gave me life to continue to do things that I would never have done.” He certainly doesn't seem to have let it slow him down.
Brandy Norwood crashed into a woman's car in 2006. The crash caused other cars to also collide into the woman's car, which then resulted in the woman's death. Initially, the California Highway Patrol recommended that a misdemeanor manslaughter charge be brought against the singer due to the information that they gathered at the scene of the accident, but ultimately the death was ruled an accident. Brandy settled out of court by paying each of the children $300,000 who had been in the car at the time when their mother's life was taken. One of the other women involved in the accident sued Brandy for the crash in order to pay for her own recovery, but Brandy countersued that woman claiming that she had a responsibility in the crash as well. It's hard to imagine how hard it must be to sort through something like that from all angles.
Rachel Bilson was in a near fatal car crash at the age of 16. She has admitted that she was dating the wrong guy and hanging around with the wrong crowd when the accident took place, so in that sense, it was a major wake-up call for her and she started making better decisions. She has said, “Everyone was lucky to have survived. I was with my girlfriend and these two guys driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. We were going really fast and we were involved in a head-on collision with a truck. We were in a tiny car and it was a pretty bad crash. They had to cut us out and I was in a coma for a few days. The crash ended that relationship, which is a good thing.” Rachel then got serious about acting and landed her breakout role on The O.C. which would change her life forever. She has also said that she still had a lot to learn at that point and would have made some different decisions looking back, but these days she seems pretty settled and happy.
In 1987, Matthew Broderick was vacationing in Ireland with then girlfriend Jennifer Grey and was involved in a car accident that ended up taking the lives of two people. He supposedly swerved due to bad weather, but some suspect that he was accidentally driving on the wrong side of the road due to the different laws in the U.S. Jennifer has actually discussed that she was still recovering from the accident emotionally when she was doing promotional appearances for Dirty Dancing. She said, "That movie's about a loss of innocence, and I feel like when that movie came out, 6 days before, I was in a car crash where a mother and daughter were killed, and I feel like my life changed, and that was a loss of my innocence. We all have different little windows into the possibility of what life can be, and the joy that life can have, and I look at [red carpet footage of herself from that time] and I look so in shock... so, kind of, checked out. And I'm such a different person now."
Gloria Estefan was in a car accident in 1990 while riding in her tour bus. Her injuries left her at risk of paralysis but she ultimately made it out okay. At the time the doctor's said that another inch of movement could have permanently paralyzed her but with physical therapy and multiple surgeries she got back on her feet and back to performing. She has explained that she had a feeling something was going to happen that day: "I had a premonition that something bad was going to happen. I was whispering to Emilio as we got on the tour bus: 'I wish my life could freeze right now.' I was terrified by the perfection of my life. I even put an elevator in our home because I felt that I would need it one day. Just before the crash I put on a movie, stretched out on the couch, made sure our son was in his bunk and fell asleep. Then the bus stopped suddenly, I opened my eyes. There was a terrible explosion. Then I was on the floor. Then it went eerily quiet."
Actor Lane Garrison had been drinking and driving when he was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of one and then injured of a couple other teenagers. His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the of the accident so he was most certainly charged with driving under the influence. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison to pay his time for the crime, as well as was required to pay money in restitution for the families of the people injured and killed in the accident. Later in 2003, Lane was almost sent to prison again when he was involved in a domestic battery case for allegedly slapping his then girlfriend. He ended up taking the plea bargain which kept him out of jail but required that he do community service, attend AA classes, attend domestic violence classes, and attend self-help classes.
In the year 2000, Halle Berry was actually involved in a hit and run accident. The actress was driving in West Hollywood when she allegedly ran a red light, hit another car, and then fled from the scene. Halle got a gash on her forehead that required 22 stitches, and the person who was in the other car suffered from a broken wrist. Halle's lawyers claimed that her head injury caused her to lose the memory of the accident. She reportedly drove right home after the accident, and then 90 minutes later drove to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The next morning was when she formally reported the accident to the police. Initially she had faced up to a year in jail, but after the proceedings she just ended up getting community service. The woman who was the hit party in the accident worried that Halle was being let off easy because of her celebrity status but they ensured everyone that wasn't the case.
In 2008, Morgan Freeman was involved in a car accident in Mississippi. The crash was bad enough that he had to be cut from the car. He injured his hand in the crash and the nerve damage has continued to cause him issues for years. There was also a passenger in the car at the time that was a woman who was not his wife, which caused some public confusion and scrutiny. What happened? The actor was giving her a ride home from a dinner. She also ended up with some injuries in the crash and Morgan had to settle a lawsuit with her. Morgan was also involved in a plane crash that occurred in 2015, but he was uninjured in that circumstance. It was referred to as a "controlled forced landing" which was necessary after the plane blew off a tire. He said, "Sometimes things don't go as planned and a tire blew on takeoff, which caused other problems. But thanks to my excellent pilot Jimmy Hobson we landed safely without a scratch. I cannot say the same about my plane."
In 2015, Caitlyn Jenner was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of the other driver. Caitlyn was not charged in the crash, but the woman's family filed a civil lawsuit. The crash was caught on tape from an MTA bus that was nearby at the time. If Caitlyn had been on the phone or under the influence at the time the crash could have been a felony, but it was simply due to not paying attention. Caitlyn crashed into a car without force that it went on the wrong side of the PCH, causing the car to collide with oncoming traffic and causing a fatal impact. Five other people were injured in the multi-car crash. The children of the woman who died filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages but Caitlyn's lawsuit stated that “These two plaintiffs are financially independent, successful, adult stepchildren, ages 57 and 60, who have lived out-of-state in Maine and New York for decades -- who were not financially dependent upon the decedent for ‘the necessities of life.’”
In 2001, actress Rebecca Gayheart was involved in an accident where she ran into a young boy and took his life. Some witnesses claim that she was speeding at the time of the crash. Allegedly what happened is that the nine-year-old boy was jaywalking across the street at the time and several cars had stopped to let him go. Rebecca then swerved around the cars and in the process hit the boy. He was taken to the hospital and died the following day. She ended up pleading no contest to a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge. She got her license suspended for one year, three years of probation, a $2,800 fine, and 750 hours of community service. At the time her lawyer said that she felt "terrible" and that she would create a PSA to help educate people about street safety: "They're thinking about a video that really highlights the dangers of jaywalking, of drivers who don't stop when other cars have stopped, [and] parents who don't properly educate their children."
In 2010, Dennis Rodman was in a bad car accident that occurred due to a tire that was blown out. He ended up flipping his car multiple times but he thankfully walked away with only minor injuries. In 2016 he was the cause of another crash where he was driving the wrong way on the I-5 freeway. A car had to swerve out of the way to avoid him, which then caused them to crash into the center divider. Apparently, Dennis stopped and got out of his car before getting back into his car and driving away before the authorities arrived. Dennis was charged with one misdemeanor count each of hit-and-run, driving the wrong way on a divided highway, providing false information to an officer, and driving without a valid driver’s license. He plead guilty of the crimes. He got probation and had to do 30 hours of community service.
Tracy Morgan was in a serious car accident in 2014 after his tour bus collided with a Wal-Mart truck. Tracy had severe injuries from the crash that took some time to heal, and his friend James McNair passed away in the accident. The man who was driving the truck initially plead not guilty to the charges against him but then ended up taking a plea deal. The man had been awake for over 28 hours and was speeding 20 MPH over the speed limit when the accident took place so he was clearly in violation of a few things. It took Tracy quite some time to fully recover from the incident but then he returned to work as usual. Recently, lawyers from the Ohio Walmart wanted Tracy to testify to sue the retailer but he declined. He said, "Deposing Tracy Morgan will lead to nothing. We are opposing it. The people I represented were all in comas for more than a week. They were devastatingly injured. It's all about harassment. They're making my clients victims again so that they could save their insurance company some money."
Mariska Hargitay was in a car accident in 1967 and her mom passed away as a result. Her mom was 1950s symbol Jayne Mansfield who was only 34 at the time. Mariska and her two brothers were both in the car at the time but happened to be spared in the accident. Mariska doesn't remember the accident since she was sleeping in the back and only three-years-old at the time. But she has spoken out about how much it affected her. She has said, "Losing my mother at such an early age is the scar of my soul. But I feel like it ultimately made me into the person I am today. I understand the journey of life. I had to go through what I did to be here." She has also explained that her life has been "an interesting reality between loss and gratitude," and also that she recognizes how important it was for her to become a parent. She has said, "Becoming a parent erased many of my negative childhood feelings and filled them in with something new."
Supermodel Niki Taylor was in a car accident in 2001 that left her in a coma for six weeks. To this day, she still has steel rods in her back to support her spine. The model was a 26-year-old single mom at the time and dating a man named Chad Renegar who was driving in Atlanta at the time of the crash. No one was injured in the crash besides Niki who had internal bleeding and only a one in ten chance of survival. She spoke out after having a few rounds of surgery. She has said, "I'm just so thankful right now…that I have legs. And that I have arms, and that God gave me another day to wake up and see my kids. I am so grateful for that right now." Her six-year-old sons didn't get to see her for two months and she was unable to talk to them on the phone, but they sent her tapes throughout her stay that she could watch as she was recovering.
Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi was in a car accident at the age of 14 that broke her pelvis and left her with some pretty serious arm scars that she doesn't worry about showing off. She was in the car with her family in Malibu when the car drove off the freeway and fell 40 feet down an embankment. She admitted that for years she was embarrassed by the scar that she ended up with after the accident, but over time, she grew to love it. She said, "My body is a blueprint of my life, of every tragedy — emotional or physical. I love my scar. It is so much a part of me. I'm not sure I would remove it even if a doctor could wave a magic wand and delete it from my arm. The scar has singled me out and made me who I am." Luckily she regained the use of both her arm and her hip so the injuries did not permanently affect her body in that way.