Fast and Furious star Paul Walker died in a car accident on Saturday afternoon at the age of 40. Walker’s official Facebook page confirmed the news this evening.
TMZ reports that the actor was riding in a Porsche GT in Santa Clarita, California when the driver lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a tree. The car burst into flames and both driver and passenger were killed in the single-car accident. Walker had been in Santa Clarita for a car show to support relief efforts for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Walker, who joined the Fast and Furious franchise as undercover agent Brian O’Conner with its first installment in 2001, initially broke out in Hollywood with roles in Pleasantville, Varsity Blues and She’s All That. He had just begin work on the seventh Fast and Furious movie, and was awaiting release of the drama Hours, which is due out on December 13th, as well as Brick Mansions and Vehicle 19.
Universal Pictures said in a statement that studio staff were heartbroken by Walker’s death. “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,” the statement said. “We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.
The Glendale, California native is the father of a 15-year-old daughter.
Update: The Los Angeles Times reports that the driver of the car and second victim in the crash was Walker’s friend Roger Rodas, the owner of Always Evolving Performance Motors. Rodas had helped organize Saturday’s car show fundraiser for the first-aid organization Reach Out Worldwide, which Walker had founded in 2010 in the wake of the Haiti earthquake.