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Officials: Speed a factor in Paul Walker crash

By Jake Coyle & Justin Pritchard

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:31 p.m. HST, Dec 01, 2013

LOS ANGELES >> Investigators sought to determine the cause of a fiery crash that killed "Fast & Furious" star Paul Walker while the 40-year-old actor's fans erected a makeshift memorial today near where the Porsche he was riding in smashed into a light pole and tree.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said speed was a factor in Saturday's one-car crash, though it will take time to determine how fast the car was going.

Because Walker is so closely associated with the underground culture of street racing portrayed in the popular "Fast & Furious" film franchise, the fatal accident had an eerie quality -- a tragic end for a Hollywood hero of speed.

The crash also killed Walker's friend and financial adviser Roger Rodas, according to Walker's publicist, Ame Van Iden. She said Walker was a passenger in the car when the two drove away in a 2005 red Porsche Carrera GT from a fundraiser in the community of Valencia, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Sheriff's deputies found the car engulfed in flames when they arrived at the site of the crash, near the fundraiser at Rodas' sport car dealership. Officials have not identified either person found in the car.

Fans of Walker, 40, gathered to leave flowers, candles and memorabilia from the action movies.

Walker is "gone but he'll never be forgotten because there are so many people that look up to him," Joel Perez, 23, told the Los Angeles Times at the memorial.

Sheriff's deputy Peter Gomez said investigators are working to determine how fast the car was traveling and what caused it to go out of control, including whether the driver was distracted or something in the road prompted him to swerve.

After the Porsche crashed into a light pole and tree, it burst into flames. The downed light pole had a speed limit sign of 45 mph.

Walker rode the "Fast & Furious" franchise to fame, starring in all but one of the six action blockbusters, beginning with the first film in 2001. He had been on break from shooting the seventh installment; production began in September and while much of the film has been shot, it's incomplete.

Universal Pictures has not said what it plans to do with "Fast & Furious 7," which currently is slated for release in July.

Walker and Rodas had attended a fundraiser benefiting victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. The event was held by Walker's Reach Out Worldwide, a charity he founded in 2010 to aid victims of natural disasters.

The fundraiser and toy drive took place at Rodas' custom car shop, Always Evolving. Attendees rushed to the nearby crash to try to put out the flames with fire extinguishers.

Bill Townsend, who attended the event, told AP Radio that Walker appeared very happy at the fundraiser.

"He was smiling at everybody, just tickled that all these people came out to support this charity," Townsend said. "He was doing what he loved. He was surrounded by friends, surrounded by cars."

Walker left behind two completed films. He stars in the upcoming Hurricane Katrina drama "Hours," which Lionsgate's Pantelion Films is to release Dec. 13. He also stars in "Brick Mansions," a remake of the French action film "District B13" that Relativity plans to release next year.

His "Fast & Furious" co-stars reacted in shock the actor's death. Vin Diesel posted a photograph of him and Walker arm-in-arm on Instagram with the message: "I am absolutely speechless." Lucadris said on Twitter: "Wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark, we were like brothers."

Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter.


Coyle reported from New York.

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cojef wrote:
These cars are not made to be driven fast on city/urban streets. Also the average driver has to learn how to drive these hi-powered monsters.
on December 1,2013 | 08:19AM
Psyche wrote:
Rest in Paradise...
on December 1,2013 | 08:31AM
stingray65 wrote:
Carrera GT were made for speed, and no other reason..The driver should know its limitation!! they look of that vehicle after the accident, looks like making a three figure speed..Bless thier soul and rest in Peace..
on December 1,2013 | 09:23AM
Mediocrates wrote:
Sorry, but very little sympathy for reckless individuals who have zero regard for the safety and well being of others and who clearly and constantly put all those around them at risk and moreover, inspires thousands of others to act in the same dangerous manner. Two less vehicular manslaughter perpetrators off the road.
on December 1,2013 | 10:08AM
RichardCory wrote:
"Two less vehicular manslaughter perpetrators off the road."

No, it's either "Two less vehicular manslaughter perpetrators on the road," or "Two more vehicular manslaughter perpetrators off the road."

Learn grammar and figure out why.
on December 1,2013 | 10:56AM
tigerwarrior wrote:
According to Automobile Magazine--there exists no crash test ratings for the 2005 Porshe 911. There were however engine and exhaust system recalls for this particular model. *Note: "If the weld completely fails, the exhaust pipe can detach from the vehicle, which could startle the driver resulting in a crash." With all the news about high-performance cars catching fire after crashes (i.e., Tesla)--one would think that crash tests would be prerequisite for all sports cars. So to pin the blame on the driver may be a bit premature at this point--until other info such as the speed at which the vehicle was traveling becomes available. The irony in all of this is that Paul Walker had recently attended a fundraiser for victims of a tragedy as he died from a tragedy himself just a few minutes later. It should also be stated that while Paul was associated with the Fast and Furious film franchise--a movie series about fast cars and illegal street racing--he was not the driver at the time of the crash.
on December 1,2013 | 01:05PM
MrRealistic wrote:
Please tigerwarrior, as a former Porsche owner you buy them for only two reasons- to show off your wealth or to drive a perfectly designed street legal race car. They aren't built like a Subaru, they are meticulously assembled and built to maneuver at high speeds. It was the drivers fault, no question about it.
on December 1,2013 | 01:48PM
sak wrote:
And luckily no innocent people were killed too because of the accident. RIP
on December 1,2013 | 02:32PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
i think that's the way i would like to go. instead of after a prolonged illness like cancer or a stroke.
on December 1,2013 | 02:10PM
ryan02 wrote:
Looking at the condition of the car, speed was definitely a factor. On the plus side, thank God the driver killed himself before he had a chance to kill other innocent people on the road. Instead of that light pole and tree that he hit, it could just as easily have been a minivan full of children.
on December 1,2013 | 02:22PM
control wrote:
Sad that kids look up to this guy as a role model. Too bad illegal racing was more important to him and his friends than his family.
on December 1,2013 | 05:48PM
TMJ wrote:
Sounds similar to the untimely demise of that guy from the "Jackass" movies.
on December 1,2013 | 06:12PM
Wpsinc wrote:
Gee, after making millions glorifying illegal street racing, PW is killed in a vehicle traveling at 100 in a 55 zone... Life imitates art.
on January 3,2014 | 04:42PM
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