A FIERY & TRAGIC END
Paul and his close friend Roger Rodas were in the actor’s Porsche Carrera GT when they died just after 3.30pm on November 30, 2013. Paul – who was in the middle of filming Furious 7 at the time – had just appeared at a fundraiser for his Reach Out Worldwide charity.
While no drugs or alcohol were found in their systems, speed was deemed to be a factor, with Roger driving the car at between 80-93mph in a 45mph speed zone. He eventually lost control of the wheel and the Porsche crashed into several trees and a concrete lamppost before catching fire. Both men were killed by injuries and burns sustained in the crash.
“I think so many people think, ‘Oh, he was just a movie star, who was killed in a car accident,’” says Paul’s mum Cheryl. “But there was so much more to him. He was such an amazing man.”
As soon as the news of Paul’s death emerged, stars took to social media to express their shock and sadness. Dwayne Johnson wrote, “Love you brother,” while Goldie Hawn added that Paul was “a very special human being”.
Paul’s She’s All That co-star Gabrielle Union tweeted, “We’ve lost a great, laid back, sweet, cool man & father,” while Mario Lopez suggested it was “eerie that the star of The Fast and the Furious died in a car accident”.
Legions of Paul’s fans also laid flowers, cards and candles at the Santa Clarita, California crash site, with one sign reading “RIP Means Racing in Paradise.”
were. He was really a guy’s guy.” While Paul was a huge name in Hollywood and was adored by millions of female fans, his favourite role was being Meadow’s dad. Having spent most of her childhood in Hawaii with her mum Rebecca Soteros, Meadow moved to California to live with Paul a year before his death. According to family members, the pair grew incredibly close during those 12 months, and they recall the actor relishing the opportunity to see his little girl mature into a young woman and attend things like her school dances. Cheryl Walker: “He helped Meadow’s date pin on his boutonnière and drove them to the dance and picked them up. It was so sweet.” Cody Walker: “He loved being a dad. He was so proud of Meadow.” Jessica Alba: ‘He loved his daughter so much and talked about her all the time. He never cared about Hollywood. He never cared about the hype.” Indeed, those closest to Paul say he was something of a reluctant star. In fact, at the time of his death he was contemplating quitting showbiz for good! Matt Luber: “Paul was always an actor who had one foot in and one foot out – he would just disappear!” Caleb Walker: “He’d always say ‘I wanted to be a park ranger, you know, make $28,000 a year and live in the wilderness.’ That’s really what he wanted to do… He had mixed emotions about the industry. Parts of it he liked, other parts he didn’t. He was actually starting to really enjoy the challenge of certain roles. I believe he’d still be acting, he was just getting to a point where he was able to be more selective. He loved the Fast family, and that wasn’t going to go away.” For his family especially, the doco I Am Paul Walker has been a way to remember Paul, honour his legacy and bring them all together again. Still, the anniversary of his death always remains a tough time... Cody Walker: “[His death] had its toll on our family. Typically when you have these big [family] reunions, it’s for a funeral or a wedding and the last time a lot of us extended family got together was when Paul passed away. [The film is] bringing people together again, while at the same time honouring Paul and all the wonderful things he did.” Tyrese Gibson: “[The last week of November] is always rough for those of us who really knew him personally. Paul treated everyone with the utmost respect and went out of his way to make everyone feel like they mattered... He was so regular. So grounded and so cool. He was the guy every woman wanted to be with and every man wanted to be like.” ■
Besties Paul and Vin won Best On-screen Team for The Fast and the Furious at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards FAMILY FIRST Paul was very close to his brothers Cody (left) and Caleb, who stood in as Paul’s body double to complete Furious 7 in 2013. Caleb adds that Vin Diesel has been “extremely protective” of the family in the five years since Paul died, revealing, “We call him our godfather. He’s definitely been there for us when we needed him.” Meadow is signed with modelling agency Women Management