independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Fans pay tribute to actor Walker

A fan places a poster during a memorial event in Valencia, California (AP/Ringo HW Chiu)

The roar of high-performance car engines filled the air as thousands of fans, friends and car enthusiasts descended on a Los Angeles suburb to pay tribute to Paul Walker at the site where the Fast And Furious actor died in a fireball car crash.

The Santa Clarita memorial, planned through social media, was due to begin at noon, but mourners began arriving hours earlier to leave flowers, candles, stuffed animals and other tributes. Throughout the afternoon, thousands of people, including entire families, arrived.

Many arrived in cars built for speed and the sounds of engines revving echoed close to where Paul and his friend died on November. 30. The event concluded with a cruise through the area 30 miles north west of central Los Angeles.

Paul, 40, was killed when the Porsche Carrera GT he was in smashed into a lamppost and tree and burst into flames. The actor's friend and financial adviser, Roger Rodas, who was driving, also died. Authorities say speed was a factor in the crash.

The two had bonded over a passion for fast cars. They co-owned a racing team named after Rodas' custom car shop, Always Evolving, and Rodas, 38, drove professionally for the team on the Pirelli World Challenge circuit this year.

Police directed often-heavy traffic as mourners passed the crash site on foot and in cars. At one point, traffic was gridlocked for miles, the sheriff's department said.

Deputies set up a command post at a nearby high school, but there were no reports of any problems.

Many of the early arrivals parked at a nearby church, where they milled around and bundled up against the chilly morning.

Edi Maya, a gardener who worked in Walker's neighborhood, said he chatted with the actor from time to time. "I work next to his house every week, twice a week. Seeing those candles there, it's heartbreaking," he said.

Paul was in Santa Clarita for a fund-raising event for his charity, Reach Out Worldwide, organised for victims of the recent Philippines typhoon. The event took place at Rodas' shop and the two stepped away for what was supposed to be a short drive in Rodas' car.

The limited-edition Porsche was previously owned by IndyCar driver Graham Rahal, who has said it could be difficult to drive.

Paul, the star of five of the six Fast And Furious movies, was the face of the franchise. He was making the seventh film in the series when he died.

Press Association

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