In the afternoon on November 30, 2013 near Santa Clarita, California, a speeding red Porsche crashed into a light pole and tree. The car, having just left a charity event up the same road burst into flames, killing the two occupants upon impact and fire. The passenger of that Porsche was actor Paul Walker, of ‘The Fast and Furious’ movie franchise, he was 40.
The driver, Roger Rodas , a professional race car driver was Walker’s friend and financial advisor whom Walker co-owned an auto racing team with. Rodas, married with two kids was 38. In fact, the crash happened so close to the charity event Rodas’s 8-year-old son heard the crash, and jumped a fence to get to the burning wreck in the hopes of saving his father.
Walkers close friend Newton Wimer, 27, a fabricator and racing engineer also ran over to the crash site immediately and tried to get into the car. Wimer had to be dragged away by first responders who arrived just as he was almost seriously injured.
Amateur video of the crash has showed up on Youtube, before it was known who exactly was in the burning car. After the wreckage was extinguished and removed, emotional fans showed up with flowers and candles at the site. Among those that arrived was actor Tyrese Gibson, Walker’s friend and co-star in several ‘Fast and Furious’ movies. Pictures have been put up on the internet of Tyrese in tears at the crash site.
Actor Vin Diesel, another very close friend of Walker’s and ‘Fast’ co-star wrote on Facebook almost a week following the crash; “When I heard, I immediately flew back to California, and went directly from the plane to his mother’s house, I thought they needed my strength, but realized when I got there and broke down before his family, that it was I who needed theirs. His mother hugged me and said I am so sorry…I said sorry? You’re the mother who lost a son?, she said yes, but you lost your other half…
Following the news of his death, came an interview with a jewelry store clerk who witnessed a random act of kindness from Walker in 2004 in Santa Barbara, California. That clerk, Irene King, confirmed to media that she witnessed actor Paul Walker chat with a couple shopping for a wedding ring. As Walker continued to look around the store, he overheard the man, whom Walker found out is an Iraqi war vet who had just returned and was preparing to return for a second tour, tell his fiancé that he could not afford the $9,000 ring she wanted. Walker spoke to the manager in private, and instructed him to put the ring on his credit card, and mail it to the couple, but to keep it anonymous. Now that Walker has passed away, the clerk wanted to let everyone know of his act of kindness. Since this story broke, the couple named Kristen and Kyle, have come forward saying that for almost ten years they were unsure as to who actually bought them the ring.
Walker is the founder of Reach Out Worldwide charities, and is survived by his 15-year-old daughter Meadow Walker from his ex Rebecca McBrain. He also had a girlfriend of almost seven years, Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell. At the time of his death, Walker was in the midst of filming ‘Fast & Furious 7’. Production has halted, and the future of the film is not as yet determined, but it will not be scrapped.
A memorial for Paul Walker took place on December 8,2013 was organized by social media and scheduled for 12 noon, had mourners arriving as early as 6 am to pay their respects. The memorial, which resembled a car rally as fans showed up in souped-up cars, is reported to have drawn thousands.
I truly hope that people look at this tragedy as an example of just what speed can do. If a professional race car driver, on a clear day, on a dry street can go out like this, maybe we need to remember this the next time we are in a mad hurry behind the wheel.
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