Leno Avoids Injury as Accidents Mar Love Ride

October 25, 2011
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
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Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

Love Ride 28
Riders of Love Ride 28 sit on their motorcycles while waiting for the stage blocking their way to be removed before they can make the ride to Castaic. Jay Leno led Love Ride 28 out of Glendale and was in a group which was later involved in an accident, causing one of his associates to go down.
Jay Leno Love Ride 28

It was supposed to be a day of celebration. Thousands of motorcyclists gathered on a sunny morning at Glendale Harley-Davidson to take part in the 28th annual Love Ride and raise money for Autism Speaks. Everyone participating in the motorcycle charity ride was excited at the events return to Lake Castaic after a five-year hiatus at the venue. Jay Leno was on hand to lead the procession out of town on a group ride up I-5 to the lake to take in a concert by country stars Montgomery Gentry.

Then an unfortunate series of events took place that would cost the lives of two motorcyclists at the dangerous intersection of northbound I-5 and the 170 freeway. It started when a member of the lead group of motorcyclists from the Love Ride, a posse that included Leno and LA City Councilman Mitch Englander, got clipped from the side and went down. At the Love Ride it was announced the gentleman’s name was Tom Kershaw, an associate of Leno, who was rushed to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills with non-life threatening injuries. Leno accompanied the man to the hospital and had to miss out on his duties as Grand Marshal at that afternoon’s Love Ride. The large pack of motorcycles in the first group had all pulled over to the side of the road at the scene, and combined with the contingency of emergency vehicles, traffic quickly got backed up on the I-5. Meanwhile, the majority of riders still trying to get out to Lake Castaic formed a single file line between the HOV and fast lanes and slowly wove through traffic.
It was during this traffic jam that another motorcycle-riding couple coming up on the scene of the first collided with a big rig. An eyewitness to the aftermath we talked to feared the worst, a fact confirmed by California Highway Patrol Officer Ed Jacobs who pronounced the couple dead at the scene. The couple was estimated to be in their 40s.

This second accident closed down traffic on I-5 to one lane for hours and would delay or prevent many from making it out to Lake Castaic for the event. The main thrust of riders gathered at Glendale H-D were delayed from leaving with the lead group at least half an hour because Love Ride crews had to take down the stage they had erected in the middle of San Fernando Road before they could leave. Over 1000 motorcycles were lined up blocks deep anxiously waiting to take off, unaware of the tragic events which were unfolding in front of them. Most didn’t learn about what had happened until arriving at Castaic.

Motorcycle USA got out right after the first wave of riders and before the main group. We rode up on the first accident where we saw who we believe was Kershaw getting wheeled into the ambulance. The fatal incident occurred sometime shortly after we were passing the first one, but we heard about it from fellow riders when we arrived at the Love Ride. Our condolences go out to the families of the riders who lost their lives. Authorities initially said the victims were riding ahead of the Love Ride motorcyclists and were not part of the charity event, but it has since been discovered that they were indeed registered participants. It is the first fatal accident attributed to the event.