File this one under extremely bad timing.
As a motorcycle enthusiast and the grand marshal of Sunday's annual Love Ride in Glendale, Calif., Jay Leno wanted to inject a little humor into the event that he thought his audience of fellow bikers might appreciate: joking to the crowd that he wanted "to see somebody go down."
Sadly, he got his wish.
Per the Glendale News Press, the Tonight Show host kicked off the charity ride which raised money for Autism Speaks with a monologue making light of the Love Ride's excellent safety record.
"Every year [the organizer] says 'Drive safe,'" Leno told participants. "I'm gonna say, 'Don't drive safe.' I wanna see somebody go down. So it'll be fun. I want it to be in front or behind me and see a whole row of bikes go down. Get drunk, fall off the road. We've all become too damn polite…we haven't had one incident."
An hour and a half after Leno gave his remarks, 51-year-old Romarino Zeri and 38-year-old Julie Cameron were killed when their motorcycle collided with a big rig on the Golden State Freeway and were run over by the rear tires. California Highway Patrol confirmed the Love Riders were subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.
But that wasn't the only crash.
Shortly before the fatal accident, according to Motorcycle USA, an associate of Leno's named Tom Kershaw got clipped from the side, his bike went down and he had to be rushed to a nearby hospital.
Luckily Kershaw's injuries were not life-threatening, but the funnyman ended up having to bail on his grand marshal duties so he could accompany his colleague to the hospital.
Alas, Leno's starting line comments left more than a few who were privy to them feeling pretty raw.
"I wish he had not joked about that, if someone does go down, he is going to feel really bad for his comments," the newspaper quoted one female rider as writing in the blogosphere.
Organizers of the Love Ride have since offered their condolences.
"We are extremely saddened at the loss of two of our motorcyclists who were participating in Sunday's ride," Love Ride founder Oliver Shokouh said in a statement Monday afternoon. "Our heartfelt condolences and sympathies go to the family and the friends of Romarino Zeri and his passenger, Julie Cameron."