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Actor Gary Busey Critically Injured In Motorcycle Crash

December 5, 1988 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Actor Gary Busey, who campaigned against mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists, was improved but still in critical condition today with brain injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.

Busey, 44, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his starring role in ″The Buddy Holly Story,″ was not wearing a helmet when he was hurled from his motorcycle headfirst into a curb Sunday.

Neurosurgeons at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center completed a two-hour emergency operation Sunday night, removing two blood clots from the actor’s brain, said hospital spokesman Ron Wise. Busey’s skull was not fractured, he said.


″He stabilized throughout the night; his condition is improved but still critical,″ Wise said. ″He’s able to respond to simple commands.″

Close relatives were at that actor’s bedside, and well-wishers were calling from across the country, Wise said.

Busey was riding alone when he inexplicably lost control of his motorcycle at a Culver City intersection about 10 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, said Culver City police Sgt. Karin Reagan. He had just left Bartel’s Harley- Davidson shop, she said.

″He hit the curb with his head and wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time of the crash,″ she said.

Wise said he had been told by the Busey’s agent that the actor had just picked up the bike after repairs.

There were no obstructions in the road, and no other vehicles were involved in the accident, which occurred shortly before noon on a sunny day, police said.

The actor opposed mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists. He appeared last month at North Hollywood’s Palomino Club to raise money to hire lobbyists in Sacramento to fight such a bill.

The California Motorcyclist Association, which sponsored that event, argues that untrained and unlicensed riders are in greater danger than riders without helmets.

The toothy, scratchy-voiced actor, who lives in Malibu with his wife, Judy, and 17-year-old son, Jake, is one of a growing number of celebrities leading the latest Hollywood trend of ″hog″ cruising.

Busey’s seaside neighbor Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay Leno, Ray Sharkey, Ken Wahl and Mickey Rourke also own hogs, the name given large Harley-Davidson motorcycles costing up to $25,000.

Busey earned the Academy Award nomination with his first feature film portraying the ill-fated 1950s rock ‘n’ roll star in the 1978 movie ″The Buddy Holly Story.″

Busey, a one-time aspiring rock musician himself and like Holly a native of Texas, performed his own renditions of Holly’s hit songs in the film.

Busey’s other film credits include ″Lethal Weapon,″ ″A Star Is Born,″ ″Carny″ and ″The Bear.″ He also starred in the 1974-75 ABC-TV comedy series ″The Texas Wheelers.″

Busey also played one of three Malibu surfers in ″Big Wednesday,″ and is an avid surfer himself.

He also starred in ″A Dangerous Life,″ an HBO cable TV miniseries broadcast last week.

Busey played a television reporter caught up in the Philippine revolution that deposed Ferdinand Marcos in favor or President Corazon Aquino.

He won a 1987 ACE award for cable television as best actor in a drama series for an episode of HBO’s ″The Hitchhiker.″

Busey grew up in Goose Creek, Texas, and attended college in Kansas and Oklahoma. He overcame well-publicized drug and eating addictions that temporarily stalled his career.

In an interview 2 1/2 years ago, he said quit using cocaine and other stimulants, and had lost 55 pounds.

He said he became a heavy drug user after his success with ″The Buddy Holly Story.″

″I was up for an Academy Award my first time out of the chute,″ he said. ″That breeds insecurity. ... How was I to come up to those expectations again? I was wondering if I was a flash in the pan.″