PAUL Walker, the star of the “Fast & Furious” movie series, has died in a car crash in Los Angeles.
The California-born actor was in the passenger seat of a red Porsche Carrera GT sports car on his way to a charity event when the vehicle crashed into a lamp post and a tree, according to local media reports.
Los Angeles police said officers responded to reports of a collision in the Valencia suburb north of the city, and arrived to find the car engulfed in flames. They said two people were found in the car and pronounced dead at the scene.
Representatives for Walker confirmed that he had died, aged 40, late on Saturday afternoon.
A statement on the actor’s Facebook page read: “It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organisation Reach Out Worldwide.
“He was a passenger in a friend's car, in which both lost their lives. We... are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news.”
Bizarrely, the publicist had earlier this had to refute stories running online that Mr Walker had been killed. That was a hoax story, but the crash and his death yesterday have been confrimed.
At the time of his death, Walker was halfway through filming the seventh instalment in Universal Pictures’ highly successful “Fast & Furious” movie franchise.
After supporting roles in a number of late 1990s teen films, Walker got his big break in Hollywood with 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, an action movie about the underground street-racing scene.
Starring alongside Vin Diesel in the first film, Walker’s success grew with that of the series as he was given the lead role in the second instalment, 2 Fast 2 Furious, when Diesel dropped out.
Sheriff's deputies work near the wreckage Sheriff's deputies work near the wreckage The franchise went on to earn an estimated $2.4 billion (£1.5 billion) worldwide, and the recent sixth film was the most financially successful yet.
“All of us at Universal are heartbroken,” Universal Pictures said in a statement. “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 & Furious' films, and to countless fans.”
Diesel posted a photograph of him and Walker arm-in-arm on Instagram with the message: “Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless.”
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in 'Fast & Furious 6' Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in 'Fast & Furious 6' Walker’s mother was a model, and took him to audition to appear in adverts from the age of two. His acting helped support the family, and he appeared in a number of TV series throughout his childhood, including Who’s the Boss and Charles in Charge.
He set up the Reach Out Worldwide charity in 2010 to help those affected by natural disasters, and starred in the upcoming drama film Hours, about Hurricane Katrina. It is due to be released on 13 December.
Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter.