Investigators look into whether Paul Walker was street racing; Studio considers fate of 'Fast & Furious 7'
Investigators will be looking into the cause of the fatal crash that killed Paul Walker after a phone tip suggested the actor was involved in a street race.
L.A. County Sheriff's Sgt. Richard Cohen told CNN a caller Sunday said another car besides the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT in which Walker was riding was at the scene. The stretch of road in Santa Clarita, Calif., is infamous for drag racing. Even if the actor and the driver, financial adviser Roger Rodas (who was CEO of Walker's company Always Evolving) hadn't been racing, investigators are looking into whether another car veered in front of the Porsche, causing it to hit a light pole and burst into flames, CNN reports.
A car enthusiast named Jim Torp, who was at the charity event Walker attended, said he didn't think Walker had been racing. He told CNN he heard a loud blast before the crash.
"What the first explosion was, I don't know if their tire blew up, because it sounded like a tire blew on the car," he said. TMZ further posits the car may have malfunctioned as a result of a steering fluid leak before the crash, as uncovered by the Always Evolving shop.
Autopsies on the victims were delayed because the coroner's office needed to identify the remains from dental records. A makeshift memorial at the crash site drew fans and at least one friend, when Fast & Furious actor Tyrese Gibson visited Monday to pay his respects.
"I will keep your energy with me forever #AshesOfAnAngel fast family around the world we love you and we love you Paul is the heartbeat of this franchise and were gonna see to it that his energy and presence lives on forever #myhearthurtssobad" Gibson posted on Facebook, along with a photo of crash wreckage he had picked up.
Walker's girlfriend, 23-year-old college student Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell is reportedly inconsolable following the crash, the U.K.'s Daily Mail reports. The 40-year-old had been dating her since 2006, when she was 16 and he was 33, the Mail says.
"They had their ups and downs but they were together and looking to spend a bright future together," her uncle Barton Bruner told the Mail. "This is horrible news and unexpected. Her mother is with her and she is comforting her."
Walker's father Paul Walker Sr. spoke to the L.A. CBS affiliate, telling the network his son was considering a break from acting to be with his 15-year-old daughter Meadow. "(He told me) I want to take a hiatus, she’s just 15 and I don’t have much more time to be with her and then boom, he got another movie. He would say, ‘I don’t know what to do.’”
In addition to Fast & Furious 7, Walker had a movie called Brick Mansions in post-production, according to IMDB.com, and a Hurricane Katrina-centered drama called Hours coming out in December. Universal executives discussed the fate of F&F7 with director James Wan on Sunday morning, looking to continue production while considering potential rewrites, The Hollywood Reporter says. The cast and crew, including Vin Diesel and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, had been scheduled to resume shooting Sunday, and were due to head to Abu Dhabi for scenes soon.
The studio did not comment on the fate of the movie, but THR says they face big hurdles in promoting a street racing film in which the star died in a fiery car crash. The movie's original release date was July 11, 2014, but may be pushed back because of the accident, the site said.