NEEDLES, CALIF. -- Sam Kinison, 38, a street preacher turned loud and bawdy stand-up comic, was killed April 10 and his wife was seriously hurt in an automobile accident here.

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol said Mr. Kinison was killed when a pickup truck swerved into the path of his car and hit it head-on. The 17-year-old driver of the truck was traveling at high speed and went over the double yellow line on two-lane U.S. Highway 95 to pass traffic, police said. The pickup truck driver was arrested, police said.

Mr. Kinison's wife of six days, Malika, 27, was hospitalized with a concussion. A passenger in the truck, an 18-year-old Las Vegas man, was injured and was in stable condition at a Needles hospital.

The Kinisons, who had just returned from a Hawaii honeymoon, were driving to a hotel-casino in Laughlin, Nev., where Mr. Kinison was to open that night.

Known for his primal yowl, Mr. Kinison proclaimed himself a rock-and-roll comedian with his profane, blunt and loudmouthed stage character who screamed his way through topics such as Christ's last words, starvation in Ethiopia and the evils of women.

A role as a high-strung history professor in Rodney Dangerfield's "Back to School" in 1986 paved the way for Kinison's cable television special a year later and guest appearances on "Late Night With David Letterman" and "Saturday Night Live." He starred this season in Fox Broadcasting Co.'s situation comedy "Charlie Hoover," which was canceled. He also recorded a popular version of the song "Wild Thing," which included a music video featuring Jessica Hahn.

Gay and women's groups often complained about his material.

The comedian had a history of drug and alcohol problems and was known for his wild, all-night parties at his Hollywood Hills home in Los Angeles.

Mr. Kinison said he gave up drugs in March 1990 and put his large, round frame on a slimming routine after a doctor warned that he was flirting with heart trouble.

"I'm approaching that time of life where I'm having to accept a little more responsibility than I used to, of course," he said in a 1991 interview. "A lot of the reputation that was perpetrated . . . was blown up a little bit out of proportion."

Mr. Kinison was born in Peoria, Ill., into a family of Pentecostal preachers. He was enrolled for a year at Pinecrest Bible Training Center in Upstate New York.

When his father died in 1970, he became a traveling evangelist, an occupation he likened to working comedy clubs. He later said he lacked the zest to succeed as a minister.

As a freshly divorced 23-year-old evangelist, he decided to drop his ministry and leave Peoria. In 1978, Mr. Kinison found his true calling -- as a stand-up comedian. After foundering at a Houston comedy club, he found work at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles.

He once explained his manic comedic style by saying, "What happened is, the longer I stayed in L.A., the more bitter I got, and I cut to the truth."