On this day in auto history - January 12th

Tue 12th Jan 2021

It was on this day in 1986 that famous American soul singer Luther Vandross was seriously injured in a car crash that killed a passenger in his car.

The highly-acclaimed R&B artist - then approaching the peak of his career - was hospitalised with multiple broken bones and facial injuries after crashing his customised Mercedes into two oncoming vehicles at high speed on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

A recording colleague, 27-year-old Lawrence Salvemini, died at the scene whilst two others were injured in the three-vehicle collision.

Though there was no evidence that Vandross had been drinking, he was charged with ‘vehicular manslaughter’ before he eventually accepted a lesser charge of ‘reckless driving’. Having done so, he also settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the Salvemini family for a reported $700,000.

The incident didn’t affect Vandross’ rise to superstardom as he went on to sell over 30 million albums and pick up eight Grammys over the course of his illustrious career which ended with his premature death from diabetes complications at the age of 54 in 2004.