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Jay Leno suffers broken bones in motorcycle crash months after garage fire

The comedian, who sustained serious burns after his vintage car erupted in flames Nov. 12 in his Los Angeles-area garage, reveals he was knocked off his bike Jan. 17.
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Jay Leno is recovering from a motorcycle accident last week that left him with multiple broken bones just months after he sustained serious burns in a fire at his Los Angeles-area garage.

The comedian and talk show host on Friday revealed he was "clotheslined," knocked off his motorcycle, and injured with broken ribs and other injuries in a Jan. 17 crash not far from the Burbank, California facility that houses his car and motorcycle collection.

"I got a broken collarbone, couple of broken ribs, and two cracked kneecaps," Leno said in an interview. "But other than that, I'm okay."

His standup schedule was briefly suspended, and he underwent shoulder surgery following the accident, a spokesperson said.

The former “Tonight Show” host, 72, said he had been working on a vintage motorcycle and was giving it a road test, with its sidecar attached, when he noticed the smell of leaking gas. He said he adjusted the carburetor and headed back to the garage.

"So I turn around, I start to cut through a parking lot," Leno said by phone. "And there was a wire across two poles which was not well marked and, boom, I just got — it clotheslined me, hit me in the neck and threw me off the bike."

The comedian first told his crash story to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, saying he hadn't discussed it earlier due to the overwhelming coverage of his recovery from his burns sustained in November.

Leno suffered serious burns to his hands and chest and third-degree burns to his face after a vintage car in his collection erupted in flames Nov. 12 in his garage.

Leno’s Burbank garage, adjacent to Hollywood Burbank Airport, is home to his estimated 180 cars and 160 motorcycles, according to duPont Registry, a marketplace and publication for rare and classic auto collectors.

In an exclusive interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show, Leno told Hoda Kotb that he had been working on his vintage 1907 White Motor Co. steam-powered car with a friend when he noticed that the vehicle’s fuel line was clogged.

Leno said he had gone underneath the vehicle to try to fix it. “And I said, ‘Blow some air through the line,’” he recalled. “Then suddenly, boom, I got a face full of gas. And then the pilot light jumped, and my face caught on fire.

“My friend pulled me out and jumped on top of me and kind of smothered the fire,” Leno said.

The comedian was taken by ambulance to a hospital and then sent to the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles, where he received hyperbaric treatment, an oxygen therapy that “can accelerate burn wound healing,” according to the facility's website.

On Friday, Leno said via phone, "Just had a little accident right after my other accident. It’s a 72-year-old guy driving an 83-year-old motorcycle."

He expressed some guilt about getting injured so soon after the medical staff at Grossman swiftly helped him get back into standup shape.

“Grossman gave me a new face, and I’m going to bang this one up and I have to get another," he said. "But luckily, I didn’t have to do that. So I’m okay.”

Leno doesn't appear to be slowing down, even as CNBC said it essentially canceled its primetime lineup, which includes "Jay Leno's Garage," a show in which the comedian shows off rare vehicles and takes drives with celebrities.

"As CNBC doubles down on its core content of business news and personal finance information, it has extended the strategy to its primetime programming, and as a result did not renew Jay Leno’s Garage," a CNBC spokesperson said.

The comic suggested the TV show will be pitched to other networks. His YouTube series of the same name, in which he’s more hands-on, reveals progress on restoration projects, and highlights new vehicle models, appears to be unaffected.

"When they took us on, it was somewhat unusual to have this car show in the middle of financial news," Leno said. "It was very successful. But now they've decided to go with straight financial news across the board. So we'll move on to somewhere else. No hard feelings or anything."

Despite his injuries, Leno said he'll continue doing stand-up, undeterred, as he prepares for a venue debut at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas for a show billed for March 31.

"I'm not missing anything," Leno said. "I've got a gig Sunday."

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