Actor Paul Walker, best known for his role as undercover cop Brian O’Conner in the “Fast & Furious” movies, died in a car accident in Southern California Saturday. He was only 40 years old.
A representative for the actor confirmed his death in an e-mail Saturday evening.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that two people were killed in the crash, which occurred at approximately 3:30 p.m. local time in Santa Clarita, California. A statement on the accident — see below — from the department said that deputies found the car engulfed in flames when they arrived at the scene.
Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene. The second victim has not been identified and the Los Angeles County Coroner told KTTV’s Kevin Takumi that dental records would be needed to formally identify the bodies.
A statement on the actor’s official Facebook page said that Walker was a passenger in the car, and had been at a charity event for his organization, Reach Out Worldwide earlier in the day.
“We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news,” the statement read in part. “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.”
Walker, a Southern California native and the oldest of five children, had started acting at a young age in commercials, and his television credits include appearances on “The Young and the Restless” and “Who’s The Boss?”
Walker, who was also known as an adventurer, once said that show business initially wasn’t a means to a career, but merely a way to help provide for the family. Walker made his feature film debut in the 1998 comedy “Meet the Deedles.” Supporting roles in the films “Pleasantville,” ”Varsity Blues” and “She’s All That” followed.
His role opposite Vin Diesel in “The Fast and the Furious” films, which was taken from a Vibe magazine article about underground street races, made Paul Walker a star. He was cast by producer Neal H. Moritz, whom of which Walker had impressed with his performance in the 2000 thriller, “The Skulls.”
Paul Walker reprised his role as Brian O’Conner in four of the five sequels made of the 2001 hit. The latest edition, “Fast & Furious 6,” was the most lucrative of them all, grossing more than $788 million worldwide following its May release.
According to the Internet Movie Database, Walker was to appear in “Fast & Furious 7,” due out next July. He will also appear in the film “Hours,” due out December 13.
Universal Pictures, the studio that was behind the “Fast & Furious” films, released the following statement Saturday evening:
All of us at Universal are heartbroken. 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. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.
Walker starred in other films, including the crime thriller “Running Scared,” the Antarctic adventure “Eight Below” and the heist film “Takers.”
Walker tempered his stardom outside of the “Fast And Furious” series, taking up other adventurer passions, such as his role in tagging and studying great white sharks aboard with the crew of Shark Men, which first aired on National Geographic and History Channel.
Walker received praise from his co-stars and directors, who characterized him as a kind-hearted, friend and professional.
Vin Diesel, the star who appeared opposite Paul Walker in “Fast and Furious” shared his reaction via Twitter:
Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. RIP. pic.twitter.com/leCBT0sZkG
— Vin Diesel (@OffVinDiesel) December 1, 2013
Ludacris, who starred with Paul Walker in “Fast and Furious” tweeted:
Your humble spirit was felt from the start, wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark,… http://t.co/nUiPPIU9Bb
— Ludacris (@Ludacris) December 1, 2013
Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow.
LA County Sheriff Statement
Update: Speed was a factor in the solo vehicle collision. The car was a red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT.
Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Sheriff’s deputies from Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station responded to a report of a traffic collision at approximately 3:30PM in the 28300 block of Rye Canyon Loop, Valencia, on Saturday, November 30, 2013.
When they arrived, deputies found the vehicle engulfed in flames. The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded, extinguished the fire and subsequently located two victims inside the vehicle. The victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
The cause of the collision is under investigation by traffic investigators with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The Office of the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner will determine the identities and the cause of death of the victims.
If you have any information about the cause of the collision, please call sheriff’s traffic investigators at 661-255-1121. Or if you wish to remain anonymous, call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org