10 Worst Celebrity Car Accidents

Anyone can suffer a fatal injury in a car accident, including celebrities. Artists, athletes, actors, military leaders, academics, and even royalty have died in car and motorcycle accidents. Distracted driving, speeding, intoxication, and bad weather play a part in these celebrity car accidents.

So which celebrity car accidents have been particularly noteworthy? Here are ten of the worst celebrity car accidents.

Diana, Princess of Wales

Two and a half billion people around the world watched the funeral of Princess Diana. At the time of her death, she was divorced from Prince Charles, heir to the British throne. But their lavish wedding vaulted her into the public eye. Her charity work kept her there.

Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997 at the age of 36 along with her companion Dodi Fayed. Their driver, Henri Paul, also died in the crash.

Police identified two primary causes: speed and intoxication. These factors caused Paul to lose control of the vehicle and crash into a concrete pillar inside a tunnel.

James Dean

Actor James Dean loved fast cars. Dean was killed in a crash while driving his Porsche 550 Spyder. 

The accident happened when a car turned left in front of Dean. Accident reconstruction experts estimate that Dean was traveling at about 55 miles per hour when he collided with the turning car. Dean died at the scene of the accident from a broken neck and internal injuries. 

Incidentally, Dean received a traffic citation for speeding about two hours before his death.

James Dean was only 24 when he died. Studios released his best work after his death. He is the only actor to earn two posthumous Oscar nominations for acting.

Paul Walker

Actor Paul Walker was 40 years old when he died in a car crash. The single-car accident happened when Walker was riding in a car with his friend, a professional racer and financial advisor. The car was traveling over 100 miles per hour when the driver lost control.

The car struck a tree and a lamppost before coming to a stop. The car burst into flames. Walker and his friend died of traumatic injuries and burns.

General George S. Patton

General Patton helped lead the Allies to victory in Europe during World War II. As the leader of the Third Army during the Battle of the Bulge, Patton helped to stop the German army’s final advance and push it back into Germany.

Patton was paralyzed in a car accident just eight months after the end of the war. His driver was speeding when he hit the side of an Army truck turning across the road. Patton died from his injuries shortly after the accident.

T.E. Lawrence

Colonel T.E. Lawrence was a British army officer during World War I. His exploits earned him the nickname “Lawrence of Arabia.” His story was memorialized in a movie of the same name.

Lawrence died in a motorcycle accident. As he crested a hill, he swerved to avoid hitting two bicyclists. He was ejected over the motorcycle’s handlebars and suffered a skull fracture when he hit the ground.

John Nash

John Nash was a mathematician who received a Nobel prize in economics in 1994. His biography, A Beautiful Mind, was the basis for the eponymous film starring Russell Crowe.

Nash and his wife were killed in a taxi accident in 2015. The taxi driver lost control of the cab while passing another vehicle. The cab struck a guardrail, ejecting both passengers. Speed, poor directional control, and a failure to wear seat belts were cited as the causes of Nash’s death.

Nash is not the only Nobel prize winner to die in a traffic accident. Pierre Curie won the Nobel prize in physics in 1903 with his wife, Marie Curie. Pierre Curie died in a pedestrian accident when he slipped while crossing the road and a horse-drawn carriage crushed his skull.

Ernie Kovacs

Many people might not recognize Ernie Kovacs’ name. But he was one of America’s first TV stars. His comedy inspired many of today’s comedic actors.

Ernie Kovacs died at age 42 in a car accident. He was famous for smoking a cigar during his performances. Incidentally, Kovacs was killed in a distracted driving accident when he lost control of his car while trying to light a cigar.

Sam Kinison

Sam Kinison was one of the most recognizable comedians during the 1980s. He appeared in comedy specials, movies, and music videos. He also released several comedy albums.

Kinison died from a broken neck and internal bleeding caused by a car crash. He was not wearing a seat belt when a drunk driver hit his car head-on. Kinison hit the windshield and died at the scene of the accident. The drunk driver pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular manslaughter.

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock created some of the most recognizable works of abstract expressionism in the art world. His paintings hang in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Tate Britain in London, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

Pollock died at age 44 in a single-car accident. Pollock was driving under the influence of alcohol when he hit a tree. Pollock was ejected from the car and died at the scene. 

Billy Martin

Billy Martin had a long career playing baseball for the New York Yankees and six other major league teams. Martin also managed the Yankees to a championship in 1977.

Martin was a notorious alcoholic. He died in a single-car accident in 1989 when his truck slid down a steep, icy embankment after a four-hour drinking binge. Martin was ejected and struck a tree. He died at the scene.

Witnesses disagreed about whether Martin or his friend was driving at the time of the accident. But juries in two court cases placed the blame on Martin’s friend, who was also drunk when the accident happened.

Universal Dangers of Accidents

No one is immune from accidents. Whether they result from speeding, intoxication, or a failure to use safety equipment, fatal accidents can happen to anyone.