Car Accident Death Photos Biography
On September 30, 1955, James Dean was driving his new Porsche 550 Spyder to an auto rally in Salinas, California when the fatal accident occurred. Originally planning to tow the Porsche to the rally, Dean changed his mind at the last minute and decided to drive the Porsche instead. While Dean and Rolf Wuetherich (Dean's mechanic) rode in the Porsche, Dean had photographer Sanford Roth and friend Bill Hickman follow him in his Ford station wagon, which had a trailer for the Spyder attached.
En route to Salinas, Dean was pulled over by police officers near Bakersfield for speeding around 3:30 p.m. After being stopped, Dean and Wuetherich continued on their way. Two hours later, around 5:30 p.m., they were driving westbound on Highway 466 (now called State Route 46), when a 1950 Ford Tutor pulled out in front of them. Twenty-three-year-old Donald Turnupseed, who was driving the Ford Tutor, has been traveling east on Highway 466 and was attempting to make a left turn onto Highway 41. Unfortunately, Turnupseed had already started to make his turn before he saw the roaring Porsche traveling quickly toward him. Without time to turn, the two cars smashed nearly head-on.
The injuries among the three involved in the crash varied greatly. Turnupseed, the driver of the Ford, only received minor injuries from the accident. Rolf Wuetherich, the passenger in the Porsche, was lucky to be thrown from the Porsche and thus suffered serious head injuries and a broken leg, but survived the crash. James Dean, however, was killed in the accident. Dean was only 24-years-old when he died in the car accident.
In 1956, James Dean was nominated for Best Leading Actor for his role in East of Eden, which made Dean the first person in history to receive an Academy Award nomination posthumously. In 1957,
Dean was again nominated for Best Leading Actor, this time for his role in Giant. Dean remains the only person to receive two Academy Award nominations posthumously.
Many Dean fans wonder what happened to the smashed Porsche. After the accident, the crumpled car was toured around the United States as part of a driver safety presentation. However, en route between two stops, the car disappeared. In 2005, Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois offered $1 million to anyone who currently had the car. So far, the car has not resurfaced.