Road crashes kill over one million people each year, and sadly, some of these fatal crashes involve famous celebrities. The celebrities on this list of 15 stars who lost their lives in serious car crashes were among the best in Hollywood, and they lost their lives way too soon. Other celebs on the list include television and sports stars and even royalty. All of these 15 deaths were untimely and affected not only their family and friends, but also their fans who cherished their work.
The most well-known celebrity car crash on this list is undoubtedly the one that fatally killed Princess Diana back in August of 1997. The Princess of Wales lost her life when her driver lost control of the vehicle while fleeing a swarm of paparazzi. One of the most recent crashes that resulted in a celeb’s death involved Fast and Furious star Paul Walker. Walker was only 40 years old when his Porsche Carrera GT crashed into a light pole in 2013. These celebrity deaths have made an impact on our lives and were difficult to hear, especially if we have adored these stars growing up. It shows that it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have, life has a way of throwing a curve ball, and these deaths are truly unfortunate. Here is the list of 15 stars who lost their lives in serious car crashes.
15. James Dean – Cultural Icon Dies After Car Hits Him Head-On
James Dean only starred in three major films before his death, but he became known as both a Hollywood and cultural icon. James Dean began his career on television and on stage and ultimately landed his first major film gig in Hollywood starring in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel, East of Eden. After starring in his second film, Rebel Without A Cause, James Dean earned the nickname of Hollywood’s bad boy and embodied anything that had to do with teen angst. James Dean also starred in the film Giant, but died before production was completed. Dean tragically lost his life on September 30, 1955, when he and his mechanic, Rolf Wuetherich, drove his Porsche 550 Spyder to a race in California. While driving along Route 466, a young student named Donald Turnupseed collided with Dean’s vehicle. The cars hit each other head-on, instantly killing James Dean and seriously injuring Wuetherich. The actor was only 24 when he died.
14. Bob Simon – Driver Lost Control Of Wheel
Bob Simon was one of the most respected journalists in the U.S. and was the correspondent for 60 Minutes for over four decades. Some of the most important events that Simon covered included the withdrawal of troops from the Vietnam War and the student protest in China’s Tiananmen Square. Simon and his TV crew were even captured and imprisoned in Iraq for 40 days during the Persian Gulf War. Sadly, Bob Simon lost his life at the age of 73, when he was involved in a car crash in New York City on February 11, 2015. Simon’s driver lost control of the vehicle, which collided with another car. The journalist sustained severe head trauma and a broken neck and died at St. Luke’s–Roosevelt Hospital.
13. Billy Martin – Driver Was Intoxicated
Billy Martin managed the New York Yankees five different times and was widely known for his antics on and off the field. From bar fights to throwing dirt on an umpire, Martin was notorious for his ruthless behavior. Besides all of his controversy, Martin was a great motivator to his players and even won the World Series with the Yankees in 1977. However, tragedy struck when Martin was killed in a car crash on December 25, 1989. Martin was a passenger in a friend’s pickup truck when it skidded off the road and continued 300 feet down an embankment, stopping near the manager’s home in New York. Martin’s friend was driving while intoxicated, and it resulted in Martin losing his life. He was 61 years old at the time of his death.
12. Jayne Mansfield – Died Instantly After Car Goes Under Tractor Trailer
Jayne Mansfield was supposed to be The Blonde Bombshell of the 1960’s, but she was tragically killed along with her lover and driver in a very gruesome car crash. Mansfield, her lover Sam Brody, her driver Ronnie Harrison, and three of her five children were on their way to New Orleans when the driver rammed into a tractor trailer and actually went right under the trailer. All three adults died instantly, but her three children luckily survived. One of her children is actually Law & Order SVU star Mariska Hargitay. The terrible accident led to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requiring all semis to have a DOT bar in the back.
11. Dale Earnhardt – Fatally Died During Daytona 500
Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was one of the most spectacular NASCAR drivers, winning seven Winston Cup championship victories and 76 careers wins, including the 1998 Daytona 500. Earnhardt was an incredible race car driver but fatally died on the race track on February 18, 2001. During the Daytona 500, Dale crashed into the retaining wall after making contact with driver Ken Schrader. Dale was only 49 years old, and since his death, NASCAR began to make stricter policies regarding safety. His son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., continues to race and had previously drove the No. 8 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., which was his father’s team.
10. Falco – Died Just Shy Of 41st Birthday
Austrian-born singer Johann Holzel, who went by the stage name Falco, created hits like Der Kommissar and Rock Me Amadeus, back in the ’80s. He is currently still the best-selling Austrian singer, reportedly selling 20 million albums. Falco was only two weeks shy of his 41st birthday when he got into a fatal car crash that took his life. While vacationing in the Dominican Republic, Falco’s SUV pulled out onto a highway and was struck by a bus. He suffered severe head injuries and died on February 6, 1998.
9. David Halberstam – Died In Three-Car Collision
Author, reporter, and Pulitzer-prize winning journalist David Halberstam was killed in a car crash in San Francisco on April 24, 2007. The author was a passenger in a vehicle when it was struck by another car and knocked into a third vehicle. Halberstam was killed instantly and died at the age of 73. He was well-known for his books about the deaths of the firefighters at the World Trade Center, the world of basketball, and the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
8. Drazen Petrovic – Car Crashed After Being Hit By Truck In Germany
Drazen Petrovic began his career in basketball, playing professionally in Europe and then joining the NBA in 1989. After being traded to the New Jersey Nets, Petrovic became the leagues best shooting guard of all time. His basketball success and fame was cut short after he died in a car accident on June 7, 1993. Drazen was in Germany and was the passenger in a vehicle that was cut off by a truck on the highway. According to the truck driver, he was trying to avoid a collision during a rainstorm, but lost control of his vehicle and killed Petrovic. He was only 28. In 2013, he was voted the best European Basketball player in history.
7. Paul Walker – Porsche Crashed And Exploded, Killing Him Instantly
Actor Paul Walker is one of the most recent stars who tragically lost his life in a serious car accident. Walker was best known for his role as Brian O’Conner in the Fast and the Furious films and made other television appearances on The Young and the Restless and Touched by an Angel. Walker was in Santa Clarita, California when the car he was in crashed and exploded, instantly killing him and his friend, Roger Rodas. Rodas was driving the Porsche Carrera GT when it crashed into a concrete lamppost and two trees on November 30, 2013. A minute later, the vehicle was engulfed in flames.
6. Jackson Pollock – Drove Drunk And Died With One Other Passenger
Jackson Pollock was an American painter whose works are currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Pollock was an influential part of the abstract expressionist movement and is recognized for his style of drip painting. Pollock was killed on August 11, 1956 in Springs, New York when he was under the influence of alcohol and lost control of his car. One of the passengers in his car, Edith Metzger, was also killed, but his mistress, Ruth Kligman, survived. Pollock was less than a mile from his home when the accident occurred.
5. Ryan Dunn – Was Speeding And Flew Off The Road, Catching Car On Fire
Ryan Dunn was best known for being a member of the Jacka** and the Viva La Bam crew, where he would perform outrageous stunts and pranks on camera. Along with long-time buddy, Bam Margera, the duo would release three Jacka** films, which became huge hits at the box office. Dunn appeared in other movies as well, including Street Dreams and Blonde Ambition. Dunn was driving his Porsche at a speed of 130 mph in Pennsylvania, when his car flew off the road and collided with a guardrail, before catching on fire. Dunn and his production assistant, Zachary Hartwell, who was also in the car, suffered blunt force trauma and thermal trauma and eventually died in the accident. Police at the scene of the crash reported that it was the worst car crash they had ever seen. Dunn and Hartwell died on the morning of June 20, 2011.
4. Grace Kelly – Lost Control Of Her Car And Flew Off A Cliff
Grace Kelly, who would later be known as the Princess of Monaco after marrying Prince Rainier III, died in a shocking car crash on September 14, 1982 in Monaco. Grace Kelly was in a number of films, including To Catch a Thief, The Country Girl, Dial M for Murder, and High Society. Kelly worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, and Gary Cooper. Winning a Golden Globe and an Oscar, Kelly was at the top of her game in Hollywood. Grace Kelly retired from acting at the young age of 26 to begin her duties as Princess of Monaco. While driving back to Monaco in 1982, Kelly suffered a stroke and lost control of her car, which went off a cliff. Her daughter, Stephanie, managed to survive the crash, but Kelly suffered a brain injury and died in the hospital. Over 400 people attended Kelly’s funeral, including Cary Grant and Princess Diana. She was 52.
3. Sylvester Ritter aka Junkyard Dog – Fell Asleep At The Wheel
Junkyard Dog was an American wrestler whose trademark was wearing a chain attached to a dog collar. The wrestler drew in a large crowd, thanks to his charm and thrilling performances. His signature moves consisted of body slams, headbutts, and often finished his matches with the “Thump.” On June 2, 1998, Ritter was driving home from his daughter LaToya’s high school graduation in North Carolina when he fell asleep at the wheel. He was buried at an unmarked grave in North Carolina. However, a marker was placed at his grave in 2012.
2. Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes – Tried Avoiding A Collision And Was Thrown Out Her Vehicle
Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes was a rapper and a member of platinum-selling R&B group TLC. The group had four numbers on singles, which included Creep, Waterfalls, No Scrubs, and Unpretty and recorded four multi-platinum albums. Lopes had a very short solo career and had two U.S. top-ten singles and even created a girl group called Blaque, who ended up having their own platinum album. On April 25, 2001, while visiting Honduras with her sister, Lopes swerved off the road to avoid hitting another vehicle and was thrown out of her car and was killed instantly. At the time, Lopes was recording a documentary, which was later released and called The Last Days of Left Eye. Lopes was only 32.
1. Princess Diana – Fled Paparazzi And Lost Her Life
People all over the world mourned the death of Princess Diana. Many loved the Princess of Wales, and the car crash that killed her is still one of the most discussed celebrity deaths of all time. Princess Di was fleeing paparazzi when her driver crashed into a pillar head-on in the Place D’Alma underpass in Paris on August 31, 1997. The Princess was with her boyfriend, Harrods heir Dodi Fayed, when the accident happened. All three people in the car lost their lives. During that time, the British royal family said that the accident was predictable because of the paparazzi swarming the vehicle. Princess Diana was only 36.
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