Star Wars fan dies after wish to watch movie comes true

PHOTO: ASHLEY FLEETWOOD’S FACEBOOK

NEW YORK • After learning he was losing his two-year battle with cancer, Star Wars fan Daniel Fleetwood (left, with his wife Ashley) had one last wish: to see an early version of the newest film.

He got his wish last week when he watched an early version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And then, on Tuesday, he died.

In a Facebook post on early Tuesday, his wife said the cause of his death was complications from spindle cell sarcoma, an aggressive cancer that left 90 per cent of his lungs covered in tumours. He was 31. "Daniel put up an amazing fight to the very end," she wrote. "He is now one with God and with the force."

Last September, Mr Fleetwood, who lived in Nacogdoches, Texas, was told by doctors he had one to two months to live. He would not live long enough to see the new movie next month.

In the span of a few weeks, Star Wars fans online did what they could to make sure Disney executives and the film's director, J.J. Abrams, knew his story. A 338,000- person-strong community of Star Wars fans helped spread the news on Reddit and a hashtag, #ForceForDaniel, was tweeted more than 59,000 times, earning the support of Mark Hamill and other stars of the movie series.

When the decision was made to let him see the movie, Abrams called to deliver the news, said Mr Fleetwood's wife. In the days after he saw the film, Mr Fleetwood's condition appeared to rapidly deteriorate.

As the news of his death spread, supporters and Star Wars actors took to social media to share their thoughts. "With the Force, he has joined. Grieve, I will not," one supporter wrote on Reddit.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'Star Wars fan dies after wish to watch movie comes true'. Print Edition | Subscribe