It was 54 years ago Sunday (April 12th, 1966), that Jan Berry of Jan & Dean suffered a horrendous car crash that left him brain damaged and severely handicapped for the rest of his life. Berry was speeding on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and crashed his Stingray into a parked truck. The wreck was so horrific, and Berry's injuries so severe, that the first paramedics on the scene actually thought Berry was dead before they checked his vital signs and found a weak pulse.
After numerous brain operations, Berry spent six weeks in coma and awoke severely brain damaged, unable to speak, and completely paralyzed on his right side. Friends and family credited Berry's legendary ego, which enabled him — although tremendously handicapped — to return to the recording studio the next year to work on material for an unreleased Jan & Dean project, Carnival Of Sound.
Fans have long referred to the patch of Sunset Boulevard near Whittier Boulevard as “Dead Man's Curve,” after the Jan & Dean hit which was eerily released two years before the crash. In the years since the crash, the city of Beverly Hills has made the curve much safer for motorists, and the actual site of the crash is now part of a park.