Actor Paul Walker — a self-styled adrenaline junkie best known for his role in “The Fast and the Furious” movies — was killed Saturday in a fiery single-car wreck in Southern California.
The 40-year-old Walker was riding in a red Porsche GT about 3:30 p.m. when the sports car flew off the road and slammed into a tree in Santa Clarita, authorities and witnesses said. The car burst into flames.
Paul Walker (left) seen with Roger Rodas, who has been identified as the other person who died in the car crash.
“It was engulfed in flames,” said Antonio Holmes, a friend of Walker’s who raced to the scene after hearing about the crash. “There was nothing. They were trapped.”
Holmes said he was among a group of people who showed up at the site with fire extinguishers and tried to rescue Walker and the driver. “We tried. We tried,” he told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. “Him and his buddy, his brother in arms at heart, just decided to joyride, take a spin. Something we all do.”
Dan Watson/Santa Clarita Valley Signal
Firefighters spray water on the wreckage of the Porsche that crashed in Valencia, Calif., on Saturday.
Jim Torp, who was also at the event, identified the second victim as Roger Rodas, a pro racer and father of two who owned Always Evolving Performance Motors. Torp described how Rodas’ 8-year-old son tried to save his dad.
“I ran over afterwards, I was trying to find Roger’s son,” Torp said. “I found out his son had jumped the fence and gone over, he was trying to get his dad out. Paul Walker’s best friend was trying to get Paul out of the car while it was still on fire … he was trying to save his friend … there was nothing he could do.”
Torp said friends of the actor and race-car driver were trying to make sense of the horrific crash and its grim parallel to Walker’s movie franchise.
Photo of the Porsche that Paul Walker was a passenger in when it crashed in Santa Clarifa, Calif.
“It’s strange,” Torp said. “(Walker) made his movies. He lived his life and he died fast and furious today. He loved speed, he loved cars, and he had to die this way. He died in a very fast car with his friend.”
The event was held at Rodas’ Always Evolving Performance Motors, just down the street from the accident site on Rye Canyon Loop, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Coroner Ed Winters said the bodies were so badly burned they would take days to positively identify.
Walker was in Santa Clarita, about 30 miles north of Los Angeles, for a charity event to benefit his organization Reach Out Worldwide, which sends first responders to the scenes of natural disasters.
“He was a great guy. His employees loved him,” friend Torp said of Rodas. “Every month Roger did a car show to help people. This was the big one for him, they were trying to help the victims in Indiana and the monsoon (in the Philippines),” Torp said.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze — and then found the two victims in the charred wreckage. They were pronounced dead at the scene. Police said speed was a factor in the crash.
“Sadly, I must confirm that Paul did pass away this afternoon in a car accident,” said his rep, Ame Van Iden.
His “Fast and Furious” co-stars bared their heartbreak after his death was confirmed.
“Pablo, I wish you could see the world right now… and the profound impact, your full life has had on it, on Us… on me…” Vin Diesel wrote on Facebook. “I will always love you Brian, as the brother you were… on and off screen.”
Tyrese Gibson visited the site of the crash on Sunday to see the place that took his friend and co-star forever. He arrived at the very emotional scene with tears in his eyes and flowers in his hand.
“I will keep your energy with me forever #AshesOfAnAngel fast family around the world we live you and we love you Paul is the heartbeat of this franchise and were gonna see to it that his energy and presence lives on forever #myhearthurtssobad.”
When Gibson first heard of his friend’s death, he posted a picture of Walker and himself on Instagram and wrote a caption that read:
“My heart is hurting so bad no one can make me believe this is real Father God I pray that you send clarity over this cause I just don’t understand My heart hurts it’s broken no one can convince me that this is real…. Prayer warriors please pray real hard for his only child, his daughter and family… #HeartOfAnAngel13YrsFamilyForeverWeJustCelebreatedYour40thBirthday….. My God… My God… I can’t believe I’m writing this.”
Walker is survived by his daughter Meadow who posted this on instagram after her dad’s tragic passing:
May Paul Walker R.I.P. and May God Bless His Daughter, Family and friends.