Stars We Lost to Car Crashes This Decade

It doesn’t do to dwell on tragedy, but as the clock is ticking on this decade, this is as good a moment as any to get closure on certain celebrity deaths. Specifically, those stars who perished in car accidents.
Remembering the stars we lost in car crashes this past decade 11 photos
Photo: / WikimediaImages
"Macho Man" Randy Savage died in 2011Ryan Dunn died in 2011 in a crash caused by drinking and speedingPaul Walker was the passenger in a Porsche that crashed, killing himself and the driver (2013)Oscar Taveras died at 22 years old, in 2014Anton Yelchin was killed in a rollaway accidentF2 racer Anthoine Hubert died in an accident on the trackEmily Hartridge is the first person in the UK to die in an e-scooter accidentSinger Kylie Rae Harris had been drinking and was speeding when she caused a 3-car collision that killed herself and another passengerLaShawn Daniels, famous producer and songwriter, died in a fiery collision in 2019Jessi Combs died trying to establish a new land-speed record in 2019
As the saying goes, “celebrities, they’re just like us.” In reality, that’s never the case because stars have everything we could ever dream of and that sets them apart from the rest of us mortals: money, popularity, nice things, the world at their feet. We tend to put them on a pedestal while also thinking of them in very relatable terms so, when tragedy strikes, we take it personally.

The death of a public figure echoes through the entire society, evoking deep feelings of loss comparable to the death of a loved one. Though they’re people we never met and probably had very little in common with, we mourn them sincerely.

In the case of death by accident, there’s also this feeling of not getting proper closure because of the unexpectedness of the event. In the case of some stars who died this decade, this feeling persists even years after the fact. So here’s to hoping this will bring some of that much-needed closure.

The decade kicked off with the death of professional wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage (real name Randall Mario Poffo). Technically, he did not die by car accident, though he died in a car accident: he was driving his Jeep Wrangler when he had a heart attack, lost control of the vehicle and crashed. A later autopsy revealed that he had an enlarged heart and advanced coronary artery disease, and was never made aware of the condition. His cause of death was listed as heart attack.

Ryan Dunn died in 2011 in a crash caused by drinking and speeding
That same year, prankster / Jackass star Ryan Dunn died in a speeding / DUI crash that shows just how dangerous drinking and driving is. He had turned 34 mere days earlier and, hours before the crash, posted photos of himself and passenger Zachary Hartwell drinking at a bar. Dunn was driving a Porsche 911 GT3 at speeds of between 132 and 140 mph (in a 55-zone) when he veered off the road, struck a tree and the car caught fire.

The autopsy determined that Dunn had more than twice the blood alcohol level allowed in the state of Pennsylvania, where the crash took place. Both Dunn and his passenger died on the spot.

2013 marks the death of beloved Fast and Furious leading man Paul Walker, whose untimely demise fans still mourn. Walker, 40, was a passenger in a Porsche Carrera GT driven by his friend and associate Roger Rodas, and they were returning home after a charity event in Santa Clarita, California.

At a curve, Rodas lost control of the Porsche and it crashed into a lamp post and 2 trees, before catching fire. Both Rodas and Walker were killed instantaneously and their bodies burned beyond recognition. An investigation determined that the car’s speed (80-93 mph in a 45-zone) and the age of the tires were likely reasons for the crash, as there was no evidence of drugs / alcohol, drag racing or obstacles on the road.

Paul Walker was the passenger in a Porsche that crashed, killing himself and the driver \(2013\)
2014 claimed the life of Dominican-Canadian professional baseball outfielder and St. Louis Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras, known as El Fenómeno. He died in the Dominican Republic, his home country, when his red Chevrolet Camaro ran off the road and hit a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene, while his girlfriend died later at the hospital.

Two years later, in 2016, Star Trek star Anton Yelchin was killed in what was later ruled a freak accident, when his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backward and pinned him against the brick pillar mailbox. He was found dead by a passerby, with an investigation determining that he had gotten out of the car to collect the mail when the car rolled backward and over him. The driveway had a steep incline.

Yelchin’s family later sued Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on the grounds that it was aware that 2014 and 2015 models had a high incidence of rollaway incidents because of a confusing gearshift design that made it difficult to say whether the car was in park or in gear. A software patch had been released the week of Yelchin’s death. FCA issued a recall and privately settled with the actor’s family. Yelchin was only 27 years old.

Anton Yelchin was killed in a rollaway accident
2019 also brought its fair share of fatal traffic collisions among celebrities. F2 driver Anthoine Hubert died in a high-speed crash during the second lap of the feature race of the 2019 Spa-Francorchamps FIA Formula 2 round, at the age of 22. Trying to avoid another collision, he crashed into the tire barrier and bounced into the path of oncoming Juan Manuel Correa, who had been traveling at 155-167 mph just moments earlier.

Both cars disintegrated in the impact and Hubert died instantly.

Famous vlogger, television personality and influencer from across the pond, Emily Hartridge, 35, became the first person to die in an e-scooter accident. She was riding her scooter on the street in Battersea, London, and was hit by a truck at a busy roundabout.

Legally, you can’t ride e-scooters on the street or on bicycle paths. The law mentions that they’re to be used on private property only, and Hartidge’s death led to pressure on legislators to make sure that these stipulations are enforced.

Music also lost a couple of bright stars this year: country singer Kylie Rae Harris and producer / songwriter LaShawn Daniels. Harris died in a 3-car collision that also claimed the life of a 16-year-old girl, and the crash was caused by alcohol and speeding. Police determined that Harris was doing 102 mph at the time of the first collision, striking the second car at 95 mph. She had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.

LaShawn Daniels, famous producer and songwriter, died in a fiery collision in 2019
LaShawn Daniels’ name might not ring a bell but you’ve probably bopped to some of his music, having written songs for anyone from Michael Jackson to Destiny’s Child, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Whitney Houston. He was killed in a fiery, head-on crash caused by a distracted driver who steered his pickup truck into oncoming traffic, hitting Daniels’ van head-on. Both drivers died on the spot.

Perhaps the year’s most resounding celebrity death is that of Jessi Combs, the fastest woman on four wheels. Combs was a professional racer, TV personality, builder and inventor, with a vast experience at the wheel and on camera. At the time of her death, she was gunning for a new land-speed record with her North American Eagle Super Sonic Speed Challenger, in the desert.

Because the accident occurred at almost 550 mph and a fire destroyed whatever was left of the jet-powered car, an exact cause can’t be determined but an investigation has concluded that she must have hit an obstacle with one of of her front wheels, which caused the entire assembly to give out. Because of the speed, the results were disastrous.

Jessi Combs died trying to establish a new land\-speed record in 2019
After Combs’ death, her team submitted her 2 runs to the Guinness Book of World Records, in the hope that she might be awarded the title of fastest woman on earth and beat Kitty O’Neil’s record. Combs reached speeds of 515.346 mph and 548.432 mph on the two runs, averaging 531.889 mph and beating O’Neil’s 512.7 mph record from 1976.

*Please note that this list is not exhaustive and doesn’t purport to be so. We have lost many brilliant stars this decade in traffic collisions and even more brilliant regular folks. May they all rest in peace and here’s to a new, safer decade.
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Editor's note: PS: Since you've made it this far, you should know this article is just a piece of Ten Years in Ten Stories, our word puzzle celebrating the memorable bits of the ending decade.

About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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