During the height of the show’s popularity in 1980, the breakout star of TVs CHiPs was involved in a serious motorcycle accident while filming. Estrada was following a camera car down an alley in Pacoima, CA, when he lost control of his 1000cc Kawasaki. As 75 horrified cast, crew and onlookers watched, Enrique (his real name) was thrown chest-first onto the hood of the car, and the police bike landed on top of him. Estrada was first thought to have severed his aorta, which would have required immediate open-heart surgery. “Twice doctors told me he wouldn’t make it,” co-star Larry “Jon” Wilcox later said.
Producers incorporated the mishap into the show’s storyline, filming Ponch’s scenes from Estrada’s real-life hospital bed. Legend has it some 500 flower arrangements and gifts poured into the teen heartthrob’s hospital room, including a nude candy-nurse doll.
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