Famous who died young, Steve Prefontaine
March 9, 2012 by staff
Famous who died young, Steve Prefontaine, Steve Roland “Pre” Prefontaine (January 25, 1951 – May 30, 1975) was an American middle and long-distance runner. Prefontaine once held the American record in the seven distance track events from the 2,000 meters to the 10,000 meters. Prefontaine died at the age of 24 in a car accident.
Prefontaine, Frank Shorter, and Bill Rodgers generated considerable media coverage which helped inspire the 1970s “running boom”. Prefontaine was often known for his mustache and his long locks of hair that parted as he ran.
On May 30, 1975, returning from a party, after dropping off friend and distance champion Frank Shorter, Prefontaine was driving down Skyline Boulevard, east of the University of Oregon campus near Hendricks Park when, for unknown reasons, his orange 1973 MGB convertible swerved into a rock wall and flipped. The overturned car trapped Prefontaine underneath it. The first witness on the scene, a nearby resident, ran outside and found Prefontaine flat on his back, still alive but pinned beneath the wreck. After trying and failing to lift the vehicle, the bystander ran to get help. By the time he returned with others, the weight of the car had crushed Prefontaine’s chest, killing him.
Prefontaine is buried at Sunset Memorial Park in his hometown, Coos Bay.
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