Arts & Entertainment

Paul Walker, Fast & Furious star, remembered at crash site by fans, friends (Map, Video)

A flier at the crash scene thanks Paul Walker for his charity's work on behalf of typhoon victims in the Philippines.
A flier at the crash scene thanks Paul Walker for his charity's work on behalf of typhoon victims in the Philippines.
Sanden Totten/KPCC

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Fans and friends of actor Paul Walker, star of "The Fast and the Furious" franchise, gathered to express their grief at the site where he died and across social media Sunday. 

Walker was killed in a car accident Saturday along with a friend. He was 40 years old.

RELATED: Vin Diesel reacts to Paul Walker's death; 'Fast & Furious' co-stars take to social media (video)

Walker had been at a charity toy drive and car meet Saturday afternoon at Always Evolving Performance Motors, which is located near the scene of the crash. The event was intended to raise funds and awareness of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. 

Witnesses said Walker and a friend had taken a red 2005 Porsche Carrera, which was on display at the event, out for a spin on the streets in the mostly-industrial area. 

Map of crash site

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's department said deputies found a car engulfed in flames when they responded about 3:30 p.m. to a report of a collision in Valencia. The car crashed into a light pole and tree and burst into flames. Witnesses of the crash's aftermath posted video of the fire online (Caution: The video below features graphic imagery of the aftermath of the crash)

Video of crash (Warning: Graphic images of fire)

The Associated Press reported Sunday the driver of the car was Roger Rodas, the co-owner of Always Evolving. Rodas has raced in various competitions sponsored by Pirelli Tires. Both he and Walker died in the crash. 

Rodas was also a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch and had helped Walker launch his charity organization, Reach Out Worldwide, which seeks to aid rescue and recovery following natural disasters around the world. It was founded by Walker in 2010.

Jim Torp was at the charity event Saturday. At the crash site Sunday, he characterized Rodas as a friend and a good man. 

"Roger was a great businessman," Torp told KPCC. "A great husband to his family and a great driver and a great person." 

A statement from Always Evolving said:  "We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news."

Walker, a Southern California native born in Glendale, was best known for playing Brian O'Conner in "The Fast and the Furious" franchise, appearing in five of the six films. He was working on the upcoming "Fast & Furious 7" as well.

Walker began making a name for himself in teen films "Varsity Blues," "Pleasantville" and "She's All That." He also stars in a suspense drama, "Hours," set for release this month. He's survived by his 15-year-old daughter.

It's not yet clear whether his death will affect the release date of  "Fast & Furious 7." "Hours," a drama starring Walker set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, will be released on December 13th, as had been initially planned, the Hollywood Reporter said Sunday night.

Crash site a gathering place, memorial

Fans and friends gathered Sunday to pay their respects to Walker, leaving flowers, movie memorabilia and personal notes at the site. The ground was still charred and a downed lamppost and speed limit sign marked the location of the crash.

By midday, news vans and cars had gathered off the sidewalk and blacked one lane of the road in the quiet, industrial  area. 

"It's just so devastating," Walker fan and Valencia resident Gaby Thomas told KPCC. Thomas stopped by with her daughter after church and left a message on a board erected near the site for fans to leave messages.

Fans remember Paul Walker at crash site

Torp says he heard the explosion around 3:35 p.m. Saturday, shortly after Walker and Rodas pulled out of the event.

"[Rodas] didn't pull out of the fund raiser burning rubber or anything else," Torp said. "He pulled out very carefully because people were around."

Anthony Fonseca, 33, from Southgate, said Walker was respected not just as an actor, but as a car fan and experienced driver who lived the role on the screen.

"He was a big gear head. Me and my wife we're both avid fans of him and love cars just like him," Fonseca said. "It wasn't just a movie role… he was part of that scene — part of the car scene."

Friends and former co-stars took to Twitter and Instagram to express their grief Sunday. "Fast and Furious" co-star Tyrese Gibson brought a flower to the crash site on Sunday. 

Tyrese Gibson pays his respects at crash site

Fast and Furious co-stars Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris and Jordana Brewster offered condolences to the Walker family: 

Dwayne Johnson on Walker's death

Chris "Ludacris" Bridges tweet

Jordana Brewster

(An earlier Instagram photo reportedly posted by Vin Diesel could not be verified and may have been fake.)

A blow to the Fast and Furious franchise 

Walker's death could be a blow to a film series that depends in large part on star power and a romance with fast cars and dangerous driving. 

Studio System News box office analyst Jody O'Riordan told KPCC that Saturday's tragedy could create a public relations nightmare for Universal, the studio behind the series, if it's not handled well.

"I mean, he died in a car accident," O'Riordan said. "I'm sure there's gonna be some blowback from people who are wondering, 'Should we be glamorizing stuff that's so dangerous, when even the star who seemed to drive fast in his private life died tragically?'"

O'Riordan also pointed out that "Tokyo Drift," the third in the "Fast and Furious" series and the only one in which Walker and Diesel didn't star, did about half as well as the first two films, and was much less successful than those that followed. 

"As soon as those two came back, [the franchise] pretty much skyrocketed worldwide," she said, adding that each movie following has done better. "I think people like the two of them together."

O'Riordan added that Walker's likable everyman character brought a lot to the films. 

"I just think it's really tragic," O'Riordan said. "From everyone I talked to, he was a really great guy. And I think I'm sorry for his family, most of all."

This story has been updated.