GMA: Lauren Hutton Describes Motorcycle Crash

ByABC News via logo

March 1, 2001 -- With 25 Vogue covers to her name, Lauren Hutton is the original supermodel.

But the actress and model is not just a beautiful face. Hutton is also a wild risk taker who has done everything from wrestling alligators to riding motorcycles, a hobby she picked up in the late 1960s for a movie role.

Since then, Hutton has set out regularly on her motorcycle, riding alongside her own mod squad, Jeremy Irons and Dennis Hopper. Last October, she was heading with a group through the rocky desert near Las Vegas, when she got separated from her riding buddies, who were among a group participating in a 100-mile ride to celebrate the future opening of the Hermitage-Guggenheim museum.

'Should Have Quit' "See, I should have quit then," Hutton told Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview, her first since the crash. "Because there was no way to thread my motorcycle through the group all the way back up to the front. It was just too late. And once you take off, you can't — I couldn't pass 90 people."

So she remained behind.

"And then we pulled to the side of the road after about two and a half hours of riding, and that's when, thank God, Jeremy [Irons] saw me, and he saw that I had tears coming out of my eyes from the wind hitting me, because my helmet didn't have a visor."

Irons called her over, and insisted she wear another helmet.

"And I said, 'Oh, no, I'm fine,' and he said 'Come on.' And he pulled out a huge full-visor helmet, which saved my life three minutes later," Hutton said.

That wasn't the only help from a friend, that day. Before they left for the trip, Hopper went all the way back to his room for his extra leather jacket, because Hutton had brought the wrong one.

She is not certain how fast she was going at the time of the crash.

"I've heard between 110 and 90, which is odd, because I don't go that fast. I really don't. I don't go that fast. I don't want to die," she said.

But she nearly did. Hutton skidded on a curve and her tires lost their grip. She then skidded more than 100 feet and went airborne. Irons saw the accident happen.

"She lost it on a corner, on a very slow bend," Irons said. "She got onto the gravel at the side of the road and went into a slow skid which is very hard to get out of when you're traveling at [that] speed and finally hit the bank and then flew through the air."

All These Little Miracles

"I mean, I shouldn't have lived, because when Tom (another rider) came around the corner, he said it looked like a 'Road Runner' cartoon…desert on both sides, and it was brilliant blue on the top, and I was up 20 feet," Hutton said.

When she came down, she tried, unsuccessfully, to miss a hill of rocks. Both legs and arms were broken, and three of her ribs were crushed, puncturing a lung. She was unconscious and a bone was protruding from her leg.

"They thought I was dead," Hutton said. "Evidently I landed and then I skidded 170 feet on my face like that, face down, but thank God it was my visor, face down. Thank you, Jeremy."

Her friend Joe came up to her, and removed her visor, but not her helmet, knowing it would be dangerous to do so.

"And so he took the visor off with this little tiny screwdriver, and then he was able to pull the rocks and the dirt out of my nose and mouth," Hutton said. And then, she was able to breathe, and her friends waited for the helicopter to come.

"So there were all these little miracles that occurred on the way," Hutton said. "I really feel like this is all extra time, you know? I just got extra time. I'm going to cry. But it really was, it was great."

Love Of Her Friends

Her doctor was not sure she was going to live. She had dozens of MRIs of her brain because she had skidded on her head, she was drooling and they thought she had brain damage, Hutton said.

"I think what saved me the most was that in the next two days, something like 14 friends jumped on the next plane from LA and New York and San Francisco," Hutton said. "And that part really does make me cry…I have a family, and they all come too, and they wouldn't come in the room — most of the time I was drooling — and all of these wonderful friends just came to love me. And they really kept me, I think they kept me alive."

Hutton still has scars and swelling on her legs. She is not supposed to walk, because all that is holding her together right now is not bone, but rather titanium screws to secure her limbs while they are supposed to heal, Hutton said.

"Two titaniums in here, and there's 14 screws in here that go right through the bones, through a piece of metal with a hole in it, and the bone — the gaps to the bone are this big, and they're not growing," Hutton said. "They're not growing…well, they are growing, but they grow very slow.

Hutton has said in the past that she is not sure if she could go on living without her adventures.

"Yeah, I got real depressed," Hutton said. "Well, let's hope I wouldn't be that way because that's a bad way to be. That's not good. I mean, there's always reading, and there's your friends, and maybe there will be love. Maybe there will be love. But even so, you'll have your friends, you'll have love of your friends."

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