Celebs Who Died From Car Crashes

Macabre as it may be, celebrity death is almost as much a fascination as celebrity life. Major award shows include an "In Memoriam" segment to honor the artists lost in the year prior. Pop culture outlets like Entertainment Weekly keep running lists of celebrities who pass away throughout the year. The 27 Club, a group of stars who died at age 27, has been unpacked in a number of books as well as a 2018 Netflix docuseries. If a star's name starts to trend on social media, fans hold their breath and prepare to grieve. As Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings explained to Teen Vogue, "When a celeb we feel connected to passes away, it can feel like losing someone close to us because they may have been integral in some of our happiest or saddest moments."

Though A-list stars may seem like all-powerful and invincible beings, they are still humans susceptible to unexpected tragedy. Per the Association for Safe International Road Travel, over 1 million people die each year from car accidents worldwide, and every so often, one of those people is a celebrity. Here are some of the most famous people to die from car accidents.

Leslie Jordan

After years in the entertainment industry spent regaling fans with his signature sense of humor, actor Leslie Jordan died in a car accident on October 24, 2022. While driving in Hollywood, the actor's BMW crashed into a wall. The authorities declared him dead at the scene, per the Los Angeles Times, but it is unclear whether he died on impact, from injuries sustained by the crash, or by a medical emergency that may have caused the collision.

Prior to the crash, Jordan had a prolific career as a musician, writer, and actor. He is perhaps best known for his roles in shows like "Will & Grace" and "American Horror Story." The actor was also considered a queer icon, and after his death, many stars took to social media or their respective platforms to honor him. "My heart is broken. Leslie Jordan was one of the funniest people I ever had the pleasure of working with. Everyone who ever met him, loved him. There will never be anyone like him. A unique talent with an enormous, caring heart. You will be missed, my dear friend," actor Sean Hayes shared in a tweet.

Jordan also grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, with his Instagram following reaching 6 million before his death. Many of his videos went viral on social media, and as one Twitter user wrote, "Leslie Jordan literally held us together during the pandemic."

Princess Diana

On August 31, 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales died in a car accident in Paris. Though Diana and Prince Charles divorced just a year prior to her death, the Princess was still a working member of the royal family until the fateful accident. Per the AP, Diana had eaten dinner at the Ritz the night of the tragedy. She was 36 years old.

Diana left behind two children, Prince William and Prince Harry, both of whom have discussed the impact of her death. As William told GQ, "One thing I can always say about my mother is she smothered Harry and me in love. Twenty years on I still feel the love she gave us and that is testament to her massive heart and her amazing ability to be a great mother." He added, "I would like to have had her advice. I would love her to have met Catherine and to have seen the children grow up. It makes me sad that she won't, that they will never know her."

Despite her untimely death, Diana remains a fixture in pop culture, and her legacy, particularly that of her style, continues to shine. And though they never met Princess Diana, Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton frequently pay tribute to their late mother-in-law with their fashion choices. 

Paul Walker

On November 30, 2013, actor Paul Walker died in a car crash alongside his financial advisor Roger Rodas. The two were driving in Los Angeles and, per The Guardian, crashed after reaching a speed higher than 100 mph. The car burst into flames. Walker and Rodas both died from the injuries.

Walker was best known for his role in "The Fast and the Furious" franchise and was in production of the seventh installment at the time of his death. This, of course, halted filming, but through some careful CGI and editing, producers were able to seamlessly keep Walker's character in the movie. The film ended with his and Vin Diesel's characters driving in separate directions, sending Walker off in a beautiful and poetic way despite his untimely death.

While filming the franchise, Walker became very close to his co-stars, particularly Vin Diesel. On the anniversary of his death, Diesel posted a tribute to his late colleague and friend. "My children always tell me that uncle Paul is with you dad, always... and I know in my heart that they are right. Miss you Pablo," he said on Instagram.

James Dean

Actor James Dean became a household name thanks to his roles in films like "Rebel Without a Cause" and "East of Eden." On September 30, 1955, the same year both aforementioned films premiered, Dean died in a car crash at just 24 years old. He collided with another car at an intersection and the other driver lived, as did the other passenger in his car, Rolf Wütherich. As noted by History, Dean was already a celebrity, but his death only made him more famous.

Before he died, Academy Award winner Gig Young talked to Dean about staying safe behind the wheel for a "Warner Bros. Presents" segment. After a short conversation about racing cars and being a more conscientious driver when out on the road, Dean signed off with what would soon become an eerie message: "Take it easy driving, the life you might save might be mine."

According to History, Wütherich was plagued with survivor's guilt and struggled with depression. He attempted suicide multiple times and tried to kill his wife.  Wütherich died in a drunk driving accident in 1981.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly began her career in Hollywood as an actor. Known for films like "Dial M for Murder" and "Rear Window," Kelly went on to win an Oscar for her role in "The Country Girl," and starred in other films afterward. Although it seems like winning an Oscar is the height of fame you can achieve as an actor, Kelly went on to become even more famous when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco, becoming Princess Grace of Monaco.

Unfortunately, her life came to an untimely end when she was driving her daughter, Stephanie, to the train station in Monaco. As noted in The Chicago Tribune, she could've had the chauffeur drive, she declined his offer, and while en route, Grace missed a turn and drove the car off a cliff. Grace and Stephanie were both taken to the hospital immediately after the crash, and the next day Stephanie was released. Grace suffered a hemorrhage and died on September 14, 1982.

Per The Chicago Tribune, Grace's other daughter, Caroline, said of the crash, "Stephanie told me, 'Mommy kept saying I can't stop. The brakes won't work. I can't stop.' She said that mommy was in a complete panic. Stephanie grabbed the handbrake. She told me right after the accident, 'I pulled on the handbrake, but wouldn't stop. I tried, but I just couldn't stop the car.'" Princess Grace was 67 years old at the time of her death.

Jackson Pollock

One of the most influential artists of his time, Jackson Pollock changed the art landscape with his signature drip technique. Though his work has been criticized, it is still widely recognized as one of the most groundbreaking movements in modern art. Many of his paintings were large canvases, and he was known for working on the floor. As per the Guggenheim, he once wrote, "On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting."

Pollock's life was cut short on August 11, 1956, when he died in a single-car accident while under the influence of alcohol. The artist had struggled with alcoholism his entire adult life, per his biography, and it caused both his death and the death of another person involved in the crash.

Pollock was clearly talented, but much of his career success and legacy is thanks to his wife, Lee Krasner. A painter herself, Krasner had a great influence on Pollock's reputation. According to Literary Hub, Krasner introduced her husband to people responsible for his rise to fame. As per Britannica, she continued championing Pollock's legacy after his death.

Lamont Bentley

On January 19, 2005, Lamont Bentley died in a car accident in Los Angeles when his car drove off the San Diego Freeway, per the Los Angeles Times. The actor was just 31 at the time, and he left behind his mother and two daughters. Following the tragedy, his manager told the LA Times, "He was a bright candle that just got snuffed out."

Bentley appeared in a number of movies and TV shows before his death. His credits included "Clueless" the series, "Family Matters," "NYPD Blue." He worked with major superstars, like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in "The Wash."

Of course, Bentley's most notable role was Hakeem Campbell in the sitcom "Moesha," which starred singer/actor Brandy Norwood. In 2017, the remaining cast had a tearful reunion on "The Real." "This is just such a great moment, this is beautiful, this is God, this is love, this is everything. Thank you guys so much for this moment," Norwood said.

Terrence Clarke

Death is almost always deeply sad, but it is particularly tragic when a young person with a promising career ahead of them dies without warning. On April 21, 2021, University of Kentucky basketball player Terrence Clarke died in a car accident. The NBA Draft prospect was 19 years old. "Terrence Clarke was a beautiful kid, someone who owned the room with his personality, smile and joy. People gravitated to him, and to hear we have lost him is just hard for all of us to comprehend right now," Clarke's coach John Calipari said in a statement, per WKYT.

At the 2021 NBA Draft, Adam Silver took a moment to pay tribute to Clarke and "draft" the young star. After the commissioner recognized the late athlete, his family was brought out to the stage. "He will forever be part of the NBA family," Silver said.

Prior to his death, Clarke expressed on Instagram his gratitude for the opportunity to play basketball at the University of Kentucky. "As an adolescent, having the privilege to put on the Kentucky uniform and play in front of the BBN was always a lifelong goal of mine ... I have grown a lot with this experience and I will never take it for granted," he said.

Anne Heche

Anne Heche had a decades-long, steady career as an actor in Hollywood, a feat not many can achieve. She was known for both her movie career and her television work, particularly her soap career, which won her a Daytime Emmy Award.

Heche's career came to an end when she died from injuries sustained in a car accident on August 5, 2022. She crashed into a home, and her death was ruled an accident, per NPR. The actor was taken to the hospital where she remained on life support until the time of her death. After her death, Homer Laffoon, one of Heche's sons, said, "Hopefully my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom."

Heche was also well known for her relationship with comedian Ellen DeGeneres. After news of her death broke, DeGeneres took to Twitter to mourn the death of her ex. "This is a sad day. I'm sending Anne's children, family and friends all of my love," she said.

Ryan Dunn

TV star Ryan Dunn rose to fame as part of the "Jackass" cast, a group of men who achieved superstardom by filming themselves performing stunts many would consider quite reckless. Although many of them have been badly injured, throughout all their years of filming, not one cast member has died from a stunt. Unfortunately, though, Dunn died in a car accident on June 20, 2011, at age 34. Per TMZ, the actor was driving 130 mph when he crashed.

The "Jackass" community was devastated by Dunn's death, and his costar Johnny Knoxville took to Twitter to express his grief. "Today I lost my brother Ryan Dunn. My heart goes out to his family and his beloved Angie. RIP Ryan, I love you buddy," he said.

Media outlets celebrated Dunn's life by reviewing his contributions to "Jackass." MTV compiled a list of its favorite stunts of the actors, mentioning "Poo Dive," "Corn Sledding," and "Hot Dog BMX," among others.

Jayne Mansfield

Jayne Mansfield was a prolific actor in the '50s and '60s. Best known for her work in "The Girl Can't Help It" and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?", she was also well-regarded for her live shows. On her way to one on June 29, 1967, Mansfield died in a car crash, as did the driver and her lawyer, Samuel S. Brody when the car rear-ended a trailer. Three of her children were in the car, as well, and all survived, per History. One of those children to survive the car accident was Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson in "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." 

In 2021, Hargitay opened up to Glamour about the death of her mother and the accident that left her with a literal scar. "I think I learned about crisis very young, and I learned very young that s**t happens and there's no guarantees, and we keep going. And then we transform it. That's kind of been my superpower, and the gift of having trauma early in life. I've spent the last 50 ... years sort of trying to figure out what happened and why, and what am I supposed to do with it?" she said.

Linda Lovelace

On April 22, 2002, the porn star known as Linda Lovelace died in a car accident. She was taken to the hospital, but died from internal injuries and was subsequently taken off life support, per CBS News.

During her life, Lovelace, born Linda Boreman, worked in the adult film industry, though as she noted, it was not by her own choice. Lovelace claimed that her first husband held her at gunpoint until she agreed to star in a film. The star was best known for the film "Deep Throat," but she maintained that she never received payment for her work. After years in the porn industry, Lovelace left and became a born-again Christian, per UPI.

Per CBS News, Lovelace once said in a 1997 interview, "I look in the mirror and I look the happiest I've ever looked in my entire life. I'm not ashamed of my past or sad about it. And what people might think of me, well, that's not real. I look in the mirror and I know that I've survived."

Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes

TLC was one of the best-selling musical acts of the '90s, and as female artists, they broke glass ceilings and paved the way for other women in the industry. The name TLC stood for the names of their members: Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, the last of whom died in a car accident on April 25, 2002, at just 30 years old. While on a trip to Honduras, Lopes lost control of the rented vehicle she was driving and rolled off the road.

Lopes' death was felt by the entire music community, particularly her band members. As reported by The New York Times, both spoke about her death in a joint interview with CNN: "We have truly lost our sister. We'll always be a group. Lisa will never be replaced."

Despite her untimely death, Lopes remains a prominent member of the music community. While living, she collaborated with her band members on most of their music, and due to pervasive sampling in the music industry today, she's credited posthumously as a composer on a number of tracks. 

Cliff Burton

Few metal bands have made an impact on popular music and pop culture like Metallica. Per a Rolling Stone readers' poll, Metallica ranks number one on the list of The Top 10 Metal Bands of All Time. The band has had six number-one albums on the Billboard 200 chart, and it's one of the longest-running bands ever.

Metallica's lineup has changed throughout the years (only two of its original members are still with the band), and one of the changes was due to a tragic bus accident on September 27, 1986. Per Ultimate Classic Rock, while on tour in Sweden, the band's bus slipped on ice, flipped on its side, and sent bassist Cliff Burton through the window. The bus landed on Burton, and while attempting to save his life, the bus fell from a crane and landed on him a second time. The 24-year-old musician was pronounced dead at the scene.

The band mourned the death of its bassist and looks back on its time with Burton, particularly the creation of its iconic album "Master of Puppets," fondly. As original member James Hetfield said in the "Hypnotizing Power" documentary, "I think 'Master of Puppets' signifies for a lot of people, and it does for me as well, the pinnacle of the Cliff Burton era. It was the culmination of that lineup. For me, it was Cliff Burton's time to really shine."