The actor Paul Walker, who found success starring in the popular car-racing franchise, has died in an automobile accident in Los Angeles aged 40
Paul Walker, the much-loved star who for 12 years headlined the Fast and Furious franchise, has died in a car crash aged 40.
The actor was travelling as a passenger in a new Porsche when his friend who was driving – who has been described as an “experienced driver” – lost control of the vehicle and collided with a street light, and then a tree.
The LA County Sheriff’s department has confirmed that two people died in a collision in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, at 3:30pm on Saturday, but Walker’s death was confirmed by his representatives on his official Facebook page, and then by his publicist, Ame Van Iden.
“It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organisation Reach Out Worldwide,”read his facebook update
“He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. – #TeamPW.”
The Reach Out Worldwide event was a car show aimed at generating aid for the Philippines typhoon relief effort. It appears Walker, who was an investor in a nearby automobile shop called Always Evolving, took the Porsche GT, which was on show at Reach Out Worldwide, for a drive.
Sheriff’s deputies work near the wreckage of the Porsche that Paul Walker was a passenger in. Photograph: Dan Watson/AP
Photos released from the crash scene show both street light and tree collapsed, alongside a completely wrecked vehicle, which was evidently engulfed in flames following the accident. Antonio Holmes, a friend of Walker and of the driver, who he called “Roger”, was nearby and ran to the crash site in a futile attempt to try and extinquish the blaze.
“We all ran around and jumped in cars and grabbed fire extinguishers and immediately went to the vehicle. It was engulfed in flames. There was nothing. They were trapped. Employees, friends of the shop. We tried. We tried. We went through fire extinguishers,” he told the Santa Clarita Signal.
The car burst into flames. Photograph: Dan Watson/AP
“Him and his buddy, his brother in arms at heart just decided to joyride, take a spin. Something we all do. We’re all car enthusiasts … We’re all here driving, enjoying each other, and God must’ve needed help.”
Universal Pictures, the studio behind the Fast and Furious franchise, released a statement on Saturday evening. “All of us at Universal are heartbroken,” it read. “Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans.”
The Porsche Paul Walker was travelling in crashed into a pole on Hercules Street near Kelly Johnson Parkway in Valencia, California. Photograph: Dan Watson/AP
The sentiment was echoed by Walker’s Fast and Furious co-star Vin Diesel, who posted a photo of the pair on his Instagram account with the caption: “Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace.”
Other colleagues took to Twitter to express their grief. “All my strength, love & faith to the Walker family during this heartbreaking time. We find our strength.. in his light. Love you brother,” wrote Dwayne Johnson on his @TheRock account. Johnson had joined the cast of Fast and Furious for its two most recent instalments, and was due to return for the seventh, which had just begun filming.
Tyrese Gibson, who co-starred in the films, posted: “My heart is hurting so bad. No one can make me believe this is real.” Director Roland Emmerich wrote that he was “extremely saddened”, while James Wan posted “I am so beyond heartbroken right now. I can’t process anything.”
Wan was working with Walker on Fast and Furious 7; the actor had already completed work on what looks likely to be his final films, a Hurricane Katrina drama called Hours, and a thriller called Brick Mansions. In the latter he plays an undercover cop, just as in the initial The Fast and the Furious his character, Brian O’Connor, was part of an undercover LAPD operation to infiltrate a street racing circuit. The film ended with O’Connor transferring his loyalties to the apparent criminals.
Paul Walker and Naima McLean in South African thriller Vehicle 19: are we nearly there yet?, another upcoming film to feature the late star. Photograph: Studio Canal
The son of a model and a sewer contractor, he grew up in Los Angeles, in a working class Mormon household. Child modelling assignments helped keep the family afloat financially (he was the eldest of five) and launched a career that started on TV then moved to the big screen with 1998 comedy Meet the Deedles, then supporting roles in Pleasantville, Varsity Blues and She’s All That.
It was his turn in 2000 thriller The Skulls which brought him to the attention of the Fast and Furious producer. Notable other roles included the lead in genial huskies drama Eight Below, and a part in Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima epic The Flags of our Fathers. The day before his death, he posted an update to Twitter expressing his excitement about the upcoming seventh instalment: “The boys are back. Will you be ready? – #TeamPW #FastFridays”
The actor is survived by a 15-year-old daughter, Meadow.
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