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Johnny Carson’s Son Killed in Car Crash

June 24, 1991 GMT

CAYUCOS, Calif. (AP) _ The son of ″Tonight Show″ host Johnny Carson was killed last week when his car ran off a rural road and plunged 100 feet down an embankment, authorities said Monday.

Richard Wolcott Carson, 39, was thrown from his 4-wheel-drive vehicle and apparently died instantly in Friday’s accident, said Officer Russ Johnson of the California Highway Patrol.

Carson was driving on a narrow service road adjacent to Highway 1 about 180 miles northwest of Los Angeles when he apparently became distracted and plummeted down the embankment, Johnson said.


″Everyone at NBC is deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Ricky Carson,″ said a network release. ″Our hearts go out to Johnny Carson and the entire family on this tragic loss.″

Private funeral services were held Sunday in Los Angeles, an NBC spokesman said. Pierce Bros. Funeral Directors handled the service.

Johnny Carson issued no statement Monday. The late-night talk show host had been preparing to leave for the Wimbledon tennis championships in England when he was notified of his son’s death.

Richard Carson was one of three grown sons from the entertainer’s first marriage to Joan Buckley. The other children are Christopher, 40, and Cory, 38.

Johnson said the hilly, scenic area overlooking the Pacific Ocean is popular with artists.

″It appears as though he was taking photographs. There was camera equipment alongside the road,″ he said. ″It appears his attention was just diverted. He wasn’t traveling at a high rate of speed or carelessly.″

Carson’s vehicle landed on its top in a concrete culvert, Johnson said.