Media Scene

Larry Sprinkle, recovering from crash, says rescuers recognized him in wrecked car

Sporting a week’s growth of beard, WCNC forecaster Larry Sprinkle recovers Thursday in his hospital bed.
Sporting a week’s growth of beard, WCNC forecaster Larry Sprinkle recovers Thursday in his hospital bed. Courtesy WCNC

Larry Sprinkle, who just marked 41 years at WCNC (Channel 36), said Thursday he doesn’t remember exactly what happened last week when he was in a crash on I-485, calling it a “mystery moment.”

In a statement released by Deborah Collura, WCNC’s general manager, the veteran forecaster said he was on his way back to Charlotte after visiting family in South Carolina on Wednesday when he rear-ended another car in heavy traffic.

“Traffic abruptly stopped and I didn’t,” said Sprinkle, 65. “I don’t remember what happened.”

His car crumpled and he was trapped by the dashboard, he said, and was having trouble breathing.

“At some point,” he said, “I heard one of the rescue workers say, ‘Look, that’s Larry Sprinkle the weather guy.’”

Multiple broken bones

Sprinkle said he told rescuers that they would need to use the Jaws of Life extraction tool to free him, and one responded, “You’re right about that.”

Sprinkle was taken to an undisclosed Charlotte hospital where doctors found multiple breaks in his leg bones, a broken ankle, broken arm and cracked ribs, Collura reported. Surgeons installed rods and pins in both legs.

Sprinkle, a native of Boone, is one of the longest-serving members of Charlotte’s media scene.

Started in Charlotte radio

He first came to Charlotte in 1969 and was known as Larry Lawrence as a disc jockey for a year on the old WIST. He then moved to Memphis for a three-year radio gig then returned to Charlotte at the old WRPL then found his way over to the city’s hottest station, the unpredictable Big WAYS and later sister station WROQ.

In 1976, Sprinkle went to Channel 36, then an independent station owned by Ted Turner that filled its airwaves with old movies.

Sprinkle worked as an announcer and voiced commercials and introduced afternoon films from an easy chair. In 1977, he got a gig as the Ty-D-Bol man in a national ad campaign.

He began forecasting the weather on WCNC and was on the air in 1989 as Hurricane Hugo ripped through Charlotte, sending pieces of the studio ceiling raining down when Sprinkle was broadcasting.

It is not yet known how long he will be out of work recovering from his injuries.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, @WashburnChObs