After being taken to the hospital because of his gasoline fire burns, actor and talk shot host Jay Leno received news from doctors that he needed specialized care at a burn center. But instead of going immediately to the nearby burn center (where he would later spend 9 days recuperating), Leno said he actually drove himself home first to be with his wife.
“I drove right home after that [meeting],” Leno said in a morning show interview recently.
That’s right — Leno spent the night in his own bed the night of his horrific accident, rather than seeking immediate medical treatment. He said he made the decision because he didn’t want his wife to worry.
“My wife doesn’t drive anymore,” he explained. “I didn’t want her struck and not knowing what was going on. It just seemed like the right thing to do, and I think it was.”
Leno, who is a well-known car buff, suffered the burns when a clogged fuel line spewed in his face. He was working underneath his 1907 white steam-car at the time, and after he called for some air pressure to unclog the line, the clogged gas actually landed on his own face.
“Suddenly, I get a face full of gas and the pilot light jumped, and my face caught on fire,” Leno said of the accident.
Leno’s friend David Killackey jumped in and grabbed Leno’s head, forcibly plowing it into his own chest to snuff out the flames. “I thought it was a bad Tinder date,” Leno joked of his friend’s quick thinking.
Killackey described Leno’s face as a “wall of fire” and told him to immediately run cold water over it after the flames went out.
Since the accident, Leno has taken his recovery in stride, joking with paparazzi and even fulfilling some standup obligations that he could have easily cancelled. All in all, it seems like the situation could have been much worse, and that Leno could have easily died without a friend there to help put out the fire.
Leno said he even received a voicemail from President Joe Biden during his recovery.
“‘I’m surprised you don’t have more important things to do, but thank you, Mr. President,'” Leno joked of his reaction to having the president of the United States giving him a personal message.
According to the ABA, while gasoline is a liquid, gasoline vapors are also flammable and can ignite from as far as 12 feet away from the source. Per year, 454 people are killed by gasoline burns, as well as nearly 4,000 people who are injured. Property damage due to gasoline burns is estimated at $1.5 billion annually.