Speed to blame for Walker's death

Last updated 10:31 26/03/2014
Paul Walker
DEAD AT 40: Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker

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Porsche carrying Fast & Furious star Paul Walker was travelling approximately 145kmh when it lost control on a suburban Los Angeles street and crashed, killing the actor and his friend, according to an investigation by law enforcement agencies into the November accident.

The sports car slammed into a light pole which had a speed limit sign of 45 mph (72kmh), killing Walker and Roger Rodas in a fiery wreck.

Investigators concluded that unsafe driving, not mechanical problems, caused the crash, according to a person who has reviewed a report by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol. Investigators calculated that Rodas was driving between 81 mph and 94 mph (130kmh and 151kmh) when his 2005 Porsche Carrera GT began to drift as it lost control after coming out of a curve.

"The vehicle had no mechanical failure and the damage that occurred to the vehicle was from the collision," accident reconstruction specialists with the Highway Patrol wrote, according to the person, who requested anonymity because the report has not been officially released yet.

A spokeswoman said early today (NZ time) that the Sheriff's Department had no new information to release regarding the investigation into the November 30 crash. "We will have something in the very near future," department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida wrote in an email. The CHP declined comment.

The Associated Press reported in December that investigators had found no evidence that the car had mechanical problems and ruled out debris or other roadway conditions.

Subsequently, Porsche sent engineers to California to review the rare car's wreckage. Though it was badly mangled and burned, the engineers were able to do a thorough analysis. They found no problems with the car's electrical systems, brakes, throttle, fuel system, steering, suspension or other systems.

Porsche declined a request for comment today.

The conclusion about the speed was based on a "yaw" mark on the road that the car's tyre left on the road in an area of industrial office parks in Santa Clarita, about 50 km northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Witnesses told a sheriff's deputy that they thought the car could have been travelling in excess of 100 mph (160kmh).

Post-crash investigators noted several issues with the condition of the car, which had several prior owners, including IndyCar driver Graham Rahal:

—Its original exhaust system had been modified in a way that could allow it to go faster, but also could have been done to change its sound.

—Its tyres were about nine years old; the owner's manual suggests changing the tyres after four years.

—Its left rear brake rotor was worn below manufacturer specifications, but that did not contribute to the crash.

Rodas, 38, and Walker, 40, had taken what was supposed to be a quick ride from a fundraiser benefiting Reach Out Worldwide, a Walker charity that gives first-response aid to victims of natural disasters. The crash occurred near the fundraiser, and horrified friends of the men raced to the scene.

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While Rodas was Walker's financial adviser, the two had bonded over their shared love of fast cars. They co-owned an auto racing team named after Rodas' shop, Always Evolving, and Rodas drove professionally for the team on the Pirelli World Challenge circuit in 2013.

Walker starred in all but one of the six Fast & Furious blockbusters, which glorify muscular cars and risky driving.

- AP

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